Youth Delinquency or Everyday Racism? Front-line Professionals’ Perspectives on Preventing Racism and Intolerance in Sweden
Keywords:Preventing Radicalization, The Tolerance Project, Racism, Sweden
In this article, I ask which problematizations of racism and intolerance that substantiate a local implementation of a targeted educational program in Sweden, called the Tolerance Project. By participating in municipality-level meetings and conversations with front-line professionals concerning the recent implementation of the program in one specific region, I have found several motivations for the continuing work to reduce racism and intolerance at schools. To emphasize this point, I have divided the problematizations into four ideal types and applied a ‘what’s the problem represented to be’ analysis to each of them. The four problematizations can be described in the following terms: generational racism, growth of the Sweden Democrats, normalization of racist language, and general ‘at-risk’ youths. The first three problematizations are context dependent, in terms of both time (during the so-called refugee crisis) and space (in a region with a long history of National Socialism). Problematizing generational racism, growth of the Sweden Democrats and normalization of racist language indicate that what is mainly to be prevented is anti-immigrant sentiments in the young as well as the adult population. This implies a limitation to the role of schools in prevention, as adults cannot be directly targeted by the school. The fourth ideal type, at-risk youth, emphasizes that there are certain risk factors that might cause young people to later radicalize or deviate in one way or another. This corresponds to the general discourse of radicalization, but, in line with other studies of front-line professionals’ perspectives, there is no clear distinction between preventing radicalization and fostering democratic citizens. Furthermore, the conglomeration of problematizations might decrease the stigmatizing effect that a targeted initiative can have, as opposed to initiatives that operate with one specific target group. The Tolerance Project might thus be a useful model for the prevention of all forms of radicalization.
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