• Mette Dahl Hansson
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis explores how practices of exchange are influencing the school-home cooperation with refugee parents in a Danish welfare state context. The research is constructed around Mar-cel Mauss (1967 [1925]) theory of the gift, social exchange, and reciprocal obligations.
The thesis investigates how macro-level dynamics are influencing every-day interaction in the Danish schools in relation to the cooperation with refugees. To illustrate this connection, the research is divided into two analyses that are interconnected. The first analysis explores the Danish welfare state in relations to the integration of refugees and immigrants, and the second analysis examines how dynamics and macro-level tendencies are reproduced in the school-home cooperation with refugee parents.
The first part is analysing how the construction of the welfare state has influenced the notion of a homogenous Danish society, where the solidarity and the redistribution of resources among the citizens derives from the notion of Denmark as “the Family of Denmark”. Immigration into this welfare state is considered problematic because of refugees and immigrants’ foreign origin and cultural differences, and the successful integration is perceived of as decisive for maintain-ing the solidarity within the state, and ultimately the survival of the welfare state. Through a comprehensive elaboration this thesis illustrates how the general sentiment in the Danish wel-fare state is that refugees and immigrants have been permitted into the territory of Denmark that belongs to the Danes, and therefore they must as guest obey and follow the rules of the Danish society. Therefore, it is required of refugees and immigrants to not only contribute and pay tax-es, but also to assimilate and adjust to Danish norms and values in return for the admittance and the social benefits they receive from the Danish state. These reciprocal expectations are inform-ing the second analysis, where the main argument of the thesis is unfolded, that is, that dynam-ics from the macro-level and practices of exchange are influencing the school-cooperation with refugee parents. One the one hand, the correlation between equality and sameness in the welfare state, and the narrow definition of what constitutes family relations and adequate parenting in Denmark influences the teachers’ perception of the parents’ ability to participate in the coopera-tion, and the teachers’ approach towards the parents is guided by a deficit logic where they ei-ther compensate for the parents’ inabilities or demand that the parents adjust their culture insofar it coheres to Danish standards. On the other hand, the parents of this enquiry only express grati-tude, appreciation, and satisfaction with the cooperation with the school because their children can attend school in a safe country, and they do not articulate any discontent with the expecta-tions that the school and teachers have for them.
The conclusion of the thesis is that in the school-home cooperation with refugee parents, the teachers rely on the macro-level sentiment that it is legitimate to make demands of cultural as-similation of refugees and immigrants, while simultaneously the parents also understand that they are in an inferior position vis-à-vis the teachers in the context of the Danish welfare socie-ty. It is thus acknowledged that what is expected and legitimate to require in return for education in Denmark is to submit to the values and norms of the Danish society, and ultimately pay the ‘cultural price’.

Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages54
ID: 280124178