A Multimethod Approach to Majority Finns’ Attitudes Towards Multiculturalism
Emma Nortio, Tuuli Anna Renvik and Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti
Multiculturalism is a controversial concept and a debated topic. To develop scientific analysis and inform political discussions, it is important to study how lay people evaluate it. Previous research has mostly regarded attitudes towards multiculturalism as unidimensional. This research often relies on the operationalisation offered by the Multicultural Ideology Scale (MIS), in which minorities’ cultural maintenance and acceptance of cultural diversity are central. In this multimethod study, we take a critical perspective on such operationalisation and examine majority of Finns’ responses to MIS in a survey and in focus group discussions. By approaching evaluation processes as social interaction, we challenge the unidimensionality assumption of attitudes towards multiculturalism. We show how cultural essentialism and nationalism are used in arguing for and against multiculturalism, and in negotiating its boundaries so that the majority can keep its dominant position. This conflicts with recognition and equality that are widely considered as cornerstones of multiculturalism.
Affective Exceptionality during the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Northern Finland
Tiina Seppälä, Tapio Nykänen, Saara Koikkalainen, Enni Mikkonen and Minna Rainio
This article analyses the ‘European refugee crisis’ in the context of Northern Finland, building on the concepts of exceptionality and affect. Conventionally, exceptionality is conceptualised from the perspective of the state that does not enable analysing exceptional situations in their broader social context. A shift in focus is required to understand how people perceive and experience exceptionality and what kinds of affects this involves. Based on participatory engagement and in-depth interviews with asylum-seekers living in reception centres in Northern Finland and local residents in their neighbourhood, our analysis demonstrates that exceptionality gains diverse meanings in different contexts. We propose affective exceptionality as a conceptual tool for analysing affects in transformational situations in which people’s sense of the ‘normal’ becomes disrupted and illustrate how placing emphasis on subjects who experience and embody exceptionality in their everyday lives enables a more nuanced understanding of exceptionality, centralising the people instead of the state.