The Native Finns and the Finnish Somali – Imitation Game Experiments

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 12:30
Oral Presentation
Otto SEGERSVEN, University of Helsinki, Finland
The Finnish Somali arrived in Finland in the 1990s as the biggest influx of refugees at time.
In 2016, there were about 7000 Somali citizens and almost 20 000 Somali speaking people in Finland, making them the fourth largest foreign language speaking population and the biggest African, Muslim and Refugee immigrant group. Despite the group size, the Finnish Somali are at the bottom of the so-called ethnic hierarchy in Finland, which indicates a relatively high exclusion from the social life of the Finnish majority population (Liebkind, 2000), making them a salient topic for the study of group relations.

We apply the Imitation Game (IG) approach in which participants, via typed questions and answers, intend to distinguish group members from pretending non-group members. Current IG analysis is based on the notion of interactional expertise: The ability to grasp the conceptual structure of another’s social world, which comes out as an ability to speak fluently the language spoken in the social world (Collins & Evans 2014). Successful pretending in the Imitation Game is therefore considered to reflect a high amount of interactional expertise. Interactional expertise is gained through cultural immersion in the social world of another. Therefore, the ability to pretend another social group in the imitation game is a proxy for the open or closed character of the group. IG experiments (Collins & Evans, 2014) have supported this argument, and shown that minority populations are better at understanding and reproducing the discourse of the majority populations than the other way around. This paper presents the preliminary analysis of two IG experiments organized in Helsinki with 20 native Finnish participants and 20 Finnish Somali participants.