Ethnic and Language Identities among Finland-Swedish Young People

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In youth many significant physiological and psychological changes take place. These identity changes are especially important for an individual’s identity development. However, questions of identity for young people, especially as they shift from childhood to adulthood, have become a central concern in numerous researches. Ethnic and language identities are bonds that hold a common social identification for individuals who view themselves as members of the same group. This study investigates the role and importance of ethnic and language identities for Swedish-speaking young people in Finland presented through an analysis of existing literature and documents on the matter. The data consists of essays written by 1012 (704 boys and 308 girls) ninth-graders from 12 Finland-Swedish high schools on the topic, “Me, a Finland-Swedish youth.” These were analyzed by using a thematic analysis. The results show that ninth-graders feel that the Finland-Swedish culture gives them a stable foundation in life that affects their identity, health and well-being in a positive way. The language and Finland-Swedish culture appear to be important for the youths’ sense of belonging and happiness as well as for a sense of stability in a changing world. Thus, the results illustrate that their language is an important aspect of self-identity and a central part of their lives.

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