Project: Linguistic justice, global migration and the Nordic welfare state
This project sets out to investigate linguistic justice in Nordic welfare institutions in a context of global migration. The main problem raised is how multilingualism is enacted and understood in Nordic welfare institutions.
Other project members
Hanna Kara and Camilla Nordberg, Åbo Akademi University, Finland; Zoe Nikolaidou, Södertörn University, Sweden; Eveliina Tolvanen, University of Turku, Finland; Linnéa Åberg, University West, Sweden
Linnaeus University, Södertörn University and University West, Sweden; Åbo Akademi University, Finland
The Swedish Research Council
1 Aug 2023–31 July 2027
Social work, sociolinguistics and social policy (Department of Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences)
More about the project
This research environment sets out to investigate linguistic justice in Nordic welfare institutions in a context of global migration.
Demographic transformations and changing linguistic landscapes test the Nordic model and its ideals of an inclusive welfare society and equal access to public services. Although multilingualism is an inherent and permanent feature of superdiverse Nordic societies, it is often handled as a temporary societal condition to be ‘solved’ by short-term instrumental means. What the situation calls for, is new ways to understand and respond to people's needs, rights and current barriers to participation and inclusion in the welfare state.
The main problem raised is how multilingualism is enacted and understood in Nordic welfare institutions. We employ multilingualism, i.e. the use of more than one language, but also language in a cultural and social meaning as a contextual lens through which growing gaps between key principles of universalism and the multilingual everyday realities of a large segment of the population are critically examined.
The research team will address these gaps by investigating everyday practices, institutional encounters and new digital and textual settings that have appeared in the contacts between welfare institutions and multilingual migrant service users. Empirically, the research environment builds on two parallelly performed studies in Sweden and Finland reflecting the urban-rural as well as linguistic diversity of immigration and incorporation. The analysis is guided by three analytical concepts capturing contexts and interactions within which linguistic justice can be investigated: superdiversity, linguistic power asymmetries and authority literacy.
The research design and data collection support comparisons and is divided in four stages based on four main research questions.
- What does linguistic justice mean in the superdiverse Nordic welfare states with expanding text and digital-based infrastructures?
- How are linguistic power asymmetries presented, performed, perceived and overcome by service users, service providers and social welfare institutions?
- How can we understand authority literacy from the point of view of both service users and service providers?
- How can differences and similarities between the two national contexts be explained and lead to new learning outcomes in a wider international context?