Kotoutuminen #10: Misleading expectations that will keep you (dis)integrated

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Many, if not most migrants who have moved to Finland, have heard the following claim: Learn the language, and presto you are integrated.

While learning the language of your new homeland helps, it is only one of many things that will help you adapt to society.

Finland’s integration policy is similar to Sleeping Beauty. It is waiting for a handsome white prince (a super migrant, perhaps?) to kiss and wake her up. When that happens, our problems will vanish and we will live happily ever after. Source: Disney.,

Erna Bödström’s dissertation, “Welcome to Fantasy Finland,” points out a lot of facts why Finland’s official integration process is selective and exclusive.

Apart from painting a rosy picture of white Finnish society where visible migrants are sometimes doing menial work, integration does not promote interaction between white Finns and migrants and visible minorities.

Another observation that Bödström makes is that there is nothing in the integration brochures about racism and how difficult it is to find work.

Bödström sees integration as a process where the newly arrived resident becomes familiar with the social services and entering the labor market.

Some politicians, as we saw during the hysterical reaction of the Oulu sexual assault cases, claimed outright that Finland’s integration program has failed.



The integration program is, in many respects, a tool used by the state to show off its exceptionalism and society’s best side. Another role it appears to have is to exclude newcomers and minorities from gaining social and political power.

See also:

*Kotoutiminen is a he Finnish term for integration. It came about in the late-1990s because there was no such term in the Finnish language.


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