• Sarah Elisabeth Hoelgaard Rindom
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
This study deals with Greenlandic young people in Denmark and examines which opportunities and limitations they have for identity and identity-formation, as well as the significance for their belonging. The background for this study is that research shows that young ethnic minorities generally have to navigate in a cultural crossroad, where they are constantly required to deal with cultural clashes and/ or pressure and expectations from both the minority and majority culture. The purpose of the study is to contribute to the existing research on identity formation among young ethnic minorities, which most often concerns descendants of refugees or migrant workers, with a focus on young Greenlanders, who, sociologically, can also be considered an ethnic minority.
The scientific theory is philosophical hermeneutics, where the ontological and epistemological understanding is that one cannot free himself from his historicity, and being in both temporal and spatial contexts. The study is designed as a theory-interpreting single case study, where the case is seen as an extreme case, on a more general social phenomenon of being an ethnic minority in Denmark. In addition, the research strategy is inspired by adaptive theory, including the application of orienting concepts. Methodologically, the survey is conducted on the basis of interviews with 7 young Greenlanders who live in Denmark, where at least one of their parents is of ethnic Greenlandic origin.
Of the theoretical and analytical frameworks that are orienting for the study of Greenlandic young people's identity and sense of belonging are: Identity under late modern conditions, Identity in practice and Othering. Identity under late modern conditions imply a theoretical framework for identity formation in late modern society, including Anthony Gidden's understanding of detraditionalization and self-identity as a reflective project. Identity in practice constitutes Thomas Hylland Eriksen's theoretical understanding that young ethnic minorities have the choice between three different types of identity, where culture is either mixed, switched between or lived by in pure form. The last orienting concept Othering, constitutes the encounter of minorities with discrimination, racism, ethnicization and estrangement.
The study is based on a two-part thematic analysis. The first part sheds light on the young people's being in everyday life in a Danish and Greenlandic context. The second part sheds light on the young people's identity and sense of belonging in childhood and early adolescence in perspective of the late youth.
The central results of the study are that young Greenlanders experience othering and estrangement in their everyday lives in Denmark. Especially for the young Greenlanders who are either Danish-speaking or who have an ethnic Danish origin, is that they also experience othering and estrangement in a Greenlandic context. Especially in childhood and early adolescence, evidence has been found that experiences with ethnification and othering have an impact on young people's self-identity and perceived belonging, and can lead to identity splitting and the experience of constantly having to adapt. Several of the informants have suffered from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety in childhood and early adolescence, just as several have felt lonely or felt that their experience of lack of belonging has not been legitimized. Young Greenlanders in Denmark are therefore potentially a vulnerable group in this age period.
In relation to how young Greenlanders use diverse strategies to deal with multicultural influence, a key finding is that a large proportion of young people's strategies have changed over time, during their youth. For the majority of the young people who have moved to Denmark during their youth, during the first years they have been very aware of fitting in and adapting, which has often been described as trying to be as Danish as possible. During adolescence, there is a tendency for a change in identity, where the identity to a greater extent embraces and includes their Danish as well as Greenlandic ethnicity in the identity, regardless of the social context in which they find themselves.
The feeling of home and belonging has also been central to the young people's identity formation, where 5 different empirical themes have been identified. The themes of home and belonging are: 1) The close and significant relationships, 2) To thrive with cultural norms and practices, 3) Identification with non-significant others, 4) The diversity of context, and 5) Non-significant others' recognition of belonging. In perspective to Nira Yuval-Davis' analytical understanding of citizenship and belonging, as well as the politics of belonging, the understanding show how young Greenlanders in Denmark can experience having an official citizenship and emotional connection to Danish society, while that they can stand in a position where they do not 'belong' anyway, because the majority population does not consider them to belong.
Publication date30 Jun 2022
Number of pages83
ID: 471901872