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Migration as a mode of cultural expression? The case of the Finland-Swedish minority's migration to Sweden

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This article aims at analysing the migration of the Finland-Swedish minority in Finland to Sweden between 1976 and 1999. This group has been constantly over-represented in the out-migration to Sweden, implicating a certain culture of migration. Migratory patterns are examined on a general as well as a regional level, related both to the mobility of the Finnish speakers and to the remaining population in Finland. In addition to the descriptive analysis the article discusses possible reasons behind the migratory tendencies. The study focuses on two different aspects. First, the minority situation of the Finland Swedes is investigated in terms of urbanisation and cultural-linguistic environment, reflected in the internal and external migration behaviour. It is proved that the share of Swedish speakers among the migrants to Sweden has increased markedly. Together with an increasing out-migration to other foreign countries, the mobility of the Finland Swedes could contribute to the diminishing vitality of the group. Second, the demographical characteristics of the migrants are explored in the perspective of migration as a central part of the individual life course. During the study period the features of the migrants have changed in correspondence with changes in the Swedish labour market. The migrants originating from city regions now tend to be older and sometimes more highly educated, thus implicating career-oriented migration. Migration from less urban regions, however, continues to be connected to ‘nest-leaving’ events such as getting a university education in Sweden. It is suggested that the migration pattern is a cultural expression of the Finland Swedes due to the ethno-linguistic minority situation in Finland and the cultural closeness to Sweden.
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Keywords: Finland Swedes; culture of migration; ethnolinguistic minority; life course

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Uppsala University, Sweden 2: University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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