”IT’S HARD TO EXPLAIN… THEY WERE JUST STRANGE”
Applying intergroup contact theory to the case of Swedish primary school children
Matilda Käll Frisk
The study investigates the in-and out-group attitudes of Swedish seven-year-old ethnic majority- and minority children participating in a bridge-building project. Drawing on previous research on prejudice reduction, the study aims to examine the applicability of Allport’s intergroup contact theory on the specific age-group, in the Swedish context. The study is conducted as an ethnography, with participatory observations and group conversations used to investigate the children’s attitudes and opinions. The results reveal that after an extended period of intergroup contact the attitudes of the majority- and minority children differ profoundly, with the majority children expressing much more negative feelings than their minority peers. Based on the results, it is concluded that the children’s different previous experiences and status pose a major obstacle to intergroup contact taking place on equal terms. Moreover, negative contact, intergroup friendships and gender are found to impact the results of the children’s interaction. The results of the study have implications both for the conduction of future similar projects, and for integration strategies in Sweden more broadly.
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