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The importance of friends: social life challenges for foreign physicians in Southern Sweden

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The article connects the fields of work/non-work research with the research on social integration of migrants. It is based on in-depth interviews with foreign physicians in the south of Sweden which explored their work/non-work experiences and their subjective perceptions of managing work, family, social and private domains of life. Based on individual reflections of social life as experienced in the workplace, in the locations of everyday life and transnationally, the analysis does not pursue the existence and composition of social networks but focuses on non-instrumental aspects of social life and explores their significance for high-skilled migrants’ own sense of integration. The findings suggest that migrants who are privileged in terms of education and employment still face extensive challenges in the social domain of life, especially with regard to close friendships. The findings furthermore suggest that social integration is a process that is influenced by place, time and individual life trajectories and therefore cannot be truthfully accounted for by looking at the numbers and ethnic composition of a migrant’s social relations. It is the quality of relations – notably friendships – that matters most.
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Keywords: Highly skilled migrants; Migrants hautement qualifiés; Suède; Sweden; amitié; domaine social; friendship; médecins; physicians; social domain; travail/non-travail; work/non-work

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Global Political Studies, Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden 2: Department of Sociology and Human Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Publication date: August 7, 2020

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