OPEN FORUM: Daily Life and Social Integration of Immigrants in City and Small Town – Evidence from Norway

Marko Valenta

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The main argument of this paper is that the city and the small town provide two different contexts for the reconstruction of social life in the period after immigrant resettlement. The social fabric of daily life in small Norwegian towns may be difficult to cope with for many immigrants. Stigmatised immigrants who do not manage to gain access to primary groups of indigenous locals may experience the small-town environment as a very problematic context for identity reproduction. If these immigrants do not manage to be absorbed into the dense sociability of a small town, social exclusion and stigmatisation will be experienced more intensively than in a city. In their view, the city provides a better context for reconstructing social life than smaller local communities. On the other hand, some immigrants may benefit if they settle in a small town. They may experience a strong sense of belonging and being recognised by the mainstream. In emphasising immigrants’ social life and the diversity of their experiences, this study not only has relevance for sociological debates about the integration of immigrants, but also has important political implications. Among other factors, it strongly suggests the importance of diversifying integration and settlement policies.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article :

Valenta, Marko. OPEN FORUM: Daily Life and Social Integration of Immigrants in City and Small Town – Evidence from Norway. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2007, vol.9, no.2, pp.284-306. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol9/issue2/art9

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