Identification Processes of a Linguistic and Cultural Minority: A Study on the Swedish Minority of Finland
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The status of the Finnish-Swedish minority has been a continuous debate in Finland. In order to see the future development of the minority in Helsinki, it is crucial to understand the present situation in relation to young bilinguals’ identification processes. Therefore, this study aims to explore the identification processes of the Swedish minority of Finland. Specifically, the goal is to investigate the factors that influence whether or not young bilinguals in Helsinki identify with the Finnish-Swedish minority. The study also aims to answer how their linguistic and cultural identities affect their identification with the Finnish-Swedish minority, as well as what their attitudes are toward the Finnish-Swedish minority itself. A qualitative and inductive method was chosen in order to answer the research questions. Ethnographic interviews were conducted with five participants. A textual analysis was conducted in five stages. More specifically, the data was analysed by a thematic analysis to identify broad themes and patterns. The results showed patterns in the participants’ linguistic and cultural identities in relation to their linguistic backgrounds and experiences. Stereotypes and nationalism were also important themes in regard to attitudes toward the Finnish-Swedish minority. Moreover, both essentialist and fluid perspectives emerged in relation to culture. The factors that influence whether or not young bilinguals in Helsinki identify with the Finnish-Swedish minority are concluded as linguistic backgrounds and the language in which they attended school. Moreover, the attitudes held by the young bilinguals toward the minority itself influence their own identification. The final factor is context, as this study found that the participants’ identities are fluid and shift depending on situations and social interactions.