Prejudice and acculturation preferences towards Russian immigrants in Finland

Today, Russian immigrants constitute a significant linguistic and ethnic minority in Finland. Among the countries bordering Russia, Finland is one of the most preferred destinations for most Russians. The Russian language is reported to be the first language of 77,177 people in Finland, whereas Russian citizens living in Finland are the second largest immigrant group after Estonians (Nshom, 2016). As an ethnic minority, Swedes and Estonians are not under attention and discussion as much as Russian immigrants are. Finland is doing a lot to promote social cohesion, diversity, and acceptance; however, prejudice towards Russian immigrants remains a concern, and more time and a newer approach is needed to reduce it in everyday discussions, social media forums, and the mass media.

Due to many upheavals in different parts of the world, migration has been one of the most popular topics for debate on different platforms over the past couple of years (Rajan, 2018). In the midst of increasing discussion and debate regarding how immigrant groups should acculturate into Finnish society, this study took-off with the aim of understanding the relationship between prejudicial feelings and support for an acculturation strategy (assimilation or integration) towards Russian immigrants.

First, the results of this study showed that Finnish adolescents were more supportive of integration than assimilation as an acculturation strategy towards Russian immigrants. On the other hand, it can be argued that Russian immigration to Finland in general, and Joensuu in particular, has increased within the last two decades. This implies that adolescents today have more opportunities to experience intergroup contact and diversity, and according to the intergroup contact theory (Allport, 1954) and Ford (2012), more intergroup contact with members of an outgroup is likely to lead to more favourable attitudes, openness to diversity and multiculturalism (see also Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006, 2008).

Studies on acculturation preferences of majority members in particular, have shown that the more contact people have with outgroup members, the more likely they are to support integrationist ideologies such as diversity, cultural pluralism or multiculturalism. This also means that they become less likely to support assimilationist ideologies (see Aronson & Brown, 2013; Callens et al., 2015; González, Verkuyten, Weesie, & Poppe, 2008; Piontkowski et al., 2002; Verkuyten & Martinovic, 2006; Ward & Masgoret, 2006). Therefore, it can be argued that an increase in intergroup contact facilitated by a significant increase in the Russian population in the city of Joensuu compared to two decades ago, accounts for the shift from assimilation to integration as an acculturation preference towards Russian immigrants.

For more, please go to the publisher or get in touch with me to discuss it more:

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