02 SES 14 A, Ethnicity and Migration
Until a few centuries ago, there was more migration within or outwards from Europe than into Europe. More recently, as well documented in the media, there has been a strong surge of migration into Europe. In 2015, for example, 76.1 million people with a migrant background were living in Europe, 389,000 children applied for asylum in 32 European countries, and 2.8 million people in total sought refuge or asylum in these countries (UN 2016). Recipients of the largest numbers of refugees and asylum seekers were Germany (700,000) followed by Sweden, France and Russian Federation (300,000 each) (UN 2016; see also Rosvall, 2017). This has consequences for the society as whole including education and what is of particular interest in the paper at hand, namely vocational education and training (VET). Given it is a quite new phenomena, there is little research concerning immigrants in VET in Sweden. However, even in countries with a colonial history and longer traditions of immigration and ethnic minorities, the research production is sparse (Avis, Orr, & Warmington, 2017). In this paper we put attention to pedagogic practices in VET with an intercultural approach. An intercultural approach here means recognition that cultural awareness per se may not be sufficient to identify some important factors, that the wider socio-political context must be considered, and that monoculturalism may be meaningfully contested (Coulby, 2006). Immigration is often intertwined with issues of ethnicity and race. Thus in line with Avis et al. (2017) we see immigration/ethnicity/race not as a ‘reified object that can be measured as if it were a simple biological entity. [We rather see it as] a construction, a set of fully social relationships’ (Apple cited in Avis et al. 2017).
The data is produced within part two in the ongoing research project “Critical education in vocational subjects? Civic knowledge in vocational programmes, policy documents and classrooms” (for publications of part one see Ledman, Rosvall, & Nylund, 2017; Nylund, Rosvall, & Ledman, 2017). The overall ambition of the project is to generate knowledge concerning (i) the extent and nature of learning processes that can be characterized as civic education in VET programmes (ii) what actors are involved in these activities (students, teachers, school, workplace training etcetera) (iii) how young people acquire and value the civic educative processes, and (iv) to what extent and why (i) and (iii) vary between program and school context. However in this paper research question i-iv has been narrowed down to civic education in terms of critical understandings of immigration and ethnicity/race. Thus, both informants with and without immigrant experience are of interest. In other words, regardless of origin, when does constructions of immigration/ethnicity/race occur? With this in mind how can the learning processes be characterized? Who are involved and how are the processes valued?
Even though there are statistical knowledge of how immigrants continues from compulsory education into upper secondary level and higher education both in Sweden and elsewhere (Avis et al., 2017; Skolverket, 2016) there is little research on how immigration and ethnicity is dealt with in VET pedagogic practices, even though there are a few exceptions (Onsando & Billett, 2017; Rosvall & Öhrn, 2014). The paper thus fills a research gap which seems important, not the least since previous research indicates that some immigrants do not choose the VET route since some VET programmes are especially associated with derogative attitudes against immigrants (foremost male dominated VET programmes) (Beicht & Walden, 2017; Rosvall & Öhrn, 2014).
The data is ethnographically produced, which means classroom observations (85 field days), interviews with students (N=87), teachers (N=10) and heads (N=4) and collecting of teaching material. Four researchers has adopted what is referred to as a collective ethnography (Gordon et al., 2006) which in this case meant that two researchers followed two VET classes each and a pair of researchers followed two VET classes. In total 2 Vehicle and transport programme classes, 2 Restaurant Management classes and 2 Health and Social care classes were followed. As in earlier ethnographic work we been involved in (see Beach, Johansson, Öhrn, Rönnlund, & Rosvall, forthcoming) the data production involved the development and continual evaluation of a characteristic ethnographic spiral of research planning and reflection, data production and analysis, new planning, and further data production and analysis as described by (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995; Walford, 2008). During the analytical process with focus on critical understandings of being an immigrant and issues of ethnicity and race each researcher has read individual fieldwork narratives and interview transcripts carefully to identify the main concepts and ideas and their possible relationships and general implications. Then jointly planned and collective discussions has been used as a means to develop reflexive interpretations. Selections of field notes and interview excerpts has been chosen and discussed by the research group in order to exemplify both the general and the specific. In the first step (cf. Charmaz, 2014; Walford, 2008) of the reading we paid attention to the critical incidents involving constructions of immigration, ethnicity and/or race. Then we continued, inspired by the methodological approach called ‘what’s the problem represented to be?’ (WPR) (Bacchi, 2009), by focusing on presuppositions that underlies the presented problem of immigration, ethnicity and race. Third step was to explore conditions which produces particular representations of the problem. The fourth step is to pay attention to silences – focusing on what has been left without saying. In the fifth step the focus is on effects produced through the representations of the problem and in the final stage on production and ways to problematize the representation of the problem. The process can be said to sustain reliability and validity since it has been tested by the researchers in previous research (Lappalainen, Nylund, & Rosvall, forthcoming).
The results starts presenting when constructions of immigration/ethnicity/race occurred. There were differences between the programmes in if issues of immigration/ethnicity/race were a planned pedagogic content, and how often issues came up spontaneously. The programmes researched by tradition recruits students with immigrant background differently, where immigrants are more commonly represented in Health and social care, less common in Restaurant management and only a few in Vehicle and Transport, also reflected in our selection of classes. Accordingly the most indicated critical incidents of immigration/ethnicity/race as a planned content and discussions that arouse spontaneously were observed in the Health and social care. It could occur as discussions on racism in society, at the workplace and in school as well as cultural differences in for example use of naturopathic drugs. We then turn to the second research question on how the learning processes could be characterized. It could be observed that teachers seemed more at ease when they had planned the content themselves. When occurring spontaneously it was treated differently by individual teachers. At some occasions the teacher seemed uncomfortable when students addressed issues of racism, which was visible in their body posture and difficulty to find appropriate words, i.e. to address the issue as racism or xenophobia. Since there were only a few critical incidents in the Vehicle and transport programme it is difficult to generalise however we would argue that it was characterised by silence and silencing. Lastly we discuss who were involved and how the processes were valued. It might not come as a surprise that it was most commonly students with immigrant background that spontaneously raised issues of immigration/ethnicity/race. Both students with immigrant background and non-immigrants indicated that they felt related issues were not properly discussed, this included a small group of boys that confessed to being xenophobic.
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