In our recently published study, we explored the ways people who have come to Finland from other countries (not forced) would think about their own self, in the minds of people who are from Finland. In other words, we asked the perception of people from an immigrant background (not a refugee) about how Finns (in the way they imagine a Finn) tend to perceive them. The majority of them, 59% have indicated that Finns perceive negatively about immigrants or consider them as a threat to the society. Even though this must be addressed, in this short blog post, I would like to grasp your attention to the other part of the findings. It is that 46% of the research participants of immigrant background think that people in Finland consider immigrants as a benefit to the society! By benefit, I mean thinking positively or at least neutral about immigrants. Those statements were placed under neutrality, symbolic benefit, realistic benefit, and general benefit.
Some of these, reads as:
– “I think immigrants are seen as a help to develop Finland” (Participant 1). – “Finland is one of the great places to be accepted as a part of the nation. Immigrants are warmly welcome and are treated with the same rights as a Finn” (Participant 2). – “I personally think that Finns have a positive attitude towards immigrants on the general level” (Participant 3).
It is important to note that people may develop their perceptions from different sources. Some of these include: From direct and indirect intergroup contact experiences with Finns, the media, and narratives of other immigrants just to name a few. Based on the intergroup contact theory, it can be expected that positive contact experiences with Finns will lead to more positive perceptions of Finnish attitudes toward immigrants. It is to say that we need more work individually and institutionally, to increase constructive interaction, more contact and dialog, and getting to know one another more. While the long-established people of Finland could reconsider their possible contact and inclusion of various perceived differences in their everyday (non)interaction and hobbies, in their work, in their projects, newly established people could also reflect on their own stereotypes, and commit to more fruitful interactions. This, for example, could be done by being brave to ask! for information, ask for meet ups, act by attending events and programs that brings common topics of concerns to the table. It might have been also possible by acting in established associations voluntarily. This creates first-hand contact, gives functionality in opening up, mutual learning, reduces prejudices and feeling of being an out-group.
For the complete article, please refer to the source below.