In an interesting article published by Siirtolaisuus – Migration issue 2/1996, social psychologist Professor J. W. Berry asks what factors have to be in place to establish reasonable harmonious relationships between diverse groups. Ethnocentrism is a theory devised by Sumner in 1906 and means when “one’s group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it.”
In the article, he asks: “What conditions need to be met, in order to manage successfully a multicultural society?”
(1) In our view there needs to be general support for cultural diversity as a valuable resource for a society; (2) there should be overall low levels of prejudice in the population; (3) there should be generally positive mutual attitudes among the various ethnocultural groups that constitute the society; (4) there needs to be a degree of attachment to the larger national society.
You are free to disagree with me, but I feel that Finland fails on all four counts. With respect to the first point, too few still have a clue in this country what cultural diversity means. The ones that are steadfastly against the claim that diversity destroys or is a threat to Finnish culture and, therefore, one would have to be “mad” to support the existence of a pluralistic society.
If we look at recent polls on how some Finns perceive foreigners, it becomes clear that there aren’t low levels of prejudice in Finland. Racism is still too common, and even encouraged, among some groups as something “manly” and “patriotic.”
Taking into account some of the comments one hears from foreigners, it becomes clear that they too have misconceptions about Finnish society that have caused misunderstandings and resentment. Too few bridges of cultural understanding exist today between the Finns and foreigners. This is fed by outright rejection by Finns of such outgroups. High unemployment among foreigners is not only structural, it is an example of mistrust as well. It is a vicious circle: Finns would prefer not to hire foreigners and, foreigners, don’t even try because they believe finding a permanent job is futile.
Point four is related to three.
In my opinion, the multiculturalist argument is a simple one: If we have people from diverse cultures living in our country, we should make an effort to accept and respect them as members of our society. Apart from being a sensible proposal, it is more effective economically and socially than rejecting and denigrating them. Finland only benefits from a situation where people from diverse cultures can contribute positively to our society. It will not happen through integration by perkele or by placing unattainable cultural benchmarks.
If Berry’s model of multiculturalism is used, it paints a pretty bleak picture for Finland. Or does it?