Does Finland promote two-way or one-way adaption of immigrants?

by , under Enrique

Our integration law promotes two-way adaption as opposed to assimilation, which is a one-way process. Section 17 of the Finnish Constitution states that each person living in this country has the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture. What do these two important laws mean in practice and how are they applied?

Sensible Finns understand what cultural diversity implies but a poll published by Helsingin Sanomat Friday shows that 53% fully (22%) or partially agreed (31%) that immigrants should aim at becoming as Finnish as possible. That compares with 48% in 2011 an 37% in 2006.

While these types of surveys are problematic because they reveal more the prejudices of the respondents, market research companies and the newspapers that publish the poll results, it shows, among other things, general expectations that give little to no insight on how to move ahead as our society becomes more diverse.

What does being Finnish imply never mind mean? Are we using the nineteenth century cultural yardstick or a totally different one in this century to make our society more inclusive to new groups who are and want to be Finnish according to their cultural backgrounds?

The crux of the matter, in my opinion, is that our ideal is two-way adaption but the rule is one-way assimilation.

This can be even be seen in our exemplary educational system, where we still promote “us” and “them” by openly labeling third-culture pupils as children “with immigrant backgrounds” (maahanmuuttajataustainen).

I personally believe that Finland is on the right track and should continue to promote and defend its present laws that ensure cultural diversity.

If you think of it, the whole debate on immigration and refugees presently taking place in this country hinges on one important point: acceptance of cultural diversity. Do we accept people moving to our country who are from different cultures? What must we give up in order to accommodate these new groups and what must these newcomers do to be included?

We have always spoken of two-way acceptance and respect on Migrant Tales. Why? Because it is inclusive and the most effective way to integrate people.

Why would you want to have a system that fuels prejudice and intolerance? At the end of the day our prejudices will cost us dearly because they will fuel social exclusion and high unemployment already so evident in many European countries.

Even if Finland is a society that has the right tools and resources to promote two-way acceptance and respect between groups, or cultural diversity, our prejudices continue to be part of the problem. They don’t permit us to have a clearer bigger picture of how to move ahead.

The answers and models that can be employed are lying right under our very noses. We have good laws and Nordic democratic values in this country to build a vibrant society where we can celebrate our diversity.

The challenge then is applying these laws and values to include Finland’s new inhabitants.

It’s that simple.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Sorry JSSK I don’t think that is what two-way acceptance means.

      Do you really believe that nothing will change as our society becomes more culturally diverse? There’s nothing that you can do to stop change. It’s like asking Finns to shop in a 1950s grocery market when they could go to the supermarket in 2013.