Interethnic relations between youths: a qualitative study

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Maren Heuer Jørgensen
  • Nana Angell Hald
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
In this thesis, focus is on interethnic friendships and relations between youths with a Danish background and youths with a minority background. The analysis examines the following: Focusing on a youth club located in a Copenhagen district, we examine the character of the relations between youths. We look at the limitations and possibilities of forming friendships between youths with a Danish background and youths with a minority background and examine the consequences thereof. The empirical data consist of ten qualitative interviews with youths who are all members of a municipal youth club in Copenhagen. The local area is diverse in living standards but social problems are common in club members’ families. They are aged between thirteen and eighteen and we have interviewed youths with both minority and majority backgrounds. Nine out of eleven informants are male, and five have a minority background. Some of the minority youths turned out to be rather reluctant informants possibly due to linguistic shortcomings, shyness or unwillingness to share their experiences. The thesis has a critical-normative perspective and uses both Axel Honneth’s recognition theory and some of Bourdieu’s concepts: habitus, position, cultural, economical and social capital. The recognition theory is based on the normative ideal that recognition should be the ethical starting point in the meetings between people. Both Honneth and Bourdieu share a critical perspective and the aim to reveal unjust treatment of underprivileged groups. We primarily use the recognition theory to reveal lack of recognition or signs of disrespect on an inter-subjective basis. In order to explain the group relations we use concepts from Bourdieu as we find it relevant to reveal the limitations of the interethnic relations. The findings are that there are few interethnic friendships amongst our informants and that the youths with a Danish background primarily relate through one-to-one relations in their friendships. The youths with a minority background more often relate to groups of friends. Although there are few interethnic friendships, we see that they all have interethnic relations at school. We find different causes that affect the possibilities to form interethnic friendship. These causes are among others: Troubled social backgrounds limiting the possibility of forming positive friendships, possibilities to participate in sports or other activities can create more friendships, common backgrounds increase the chance of forming closer friendships, and lack of role models amongst the minority youths influences on the relations. We also find that the youths underline the differences between the ethnical groups through their activities. The possible consequences are that the youths with minority backgrounds form subcultures due to lack of recognition in other relations. Group relations among the minority youths tend to have criminal behaviour as common way of acting. We find that it can be difficult for individuals leaving the groups. School relations have a possibility to form positive interethnic relations. Unfortunately we see a tendency that some of the school classes are separated into ethnic groups and create more prejudice amongst the youths.
Publication date2010
Number of pages107
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 19676686