Producing Difference in Organizing – Attempts to Change an Ethnic Identity into a Professional One
This paper reports how municipalities, state agencies and other organizations working with the induction of newly-arrived immigrants in Sweden cooperate in establishing a system for assessing the immigrants’ competencies and qualifications (validation). Among the various practices involved in this “management of difference”, one consists in an active casting of immigrants. While such casting is not necessarily problematic, the results of Swedish validation programs have been described by practitioners, policy makers and researchers alike as somewhat disappointing with regard to getting people into employment quicker or integrating them better into society. Some of the shortcomings may be explained by the fact that the efforts to remove inequality involve the categorization of the newly-arrived immigrants as having an “upsetting identity”; they could not be easily identified in relationship to what was considered as the Swedish norm. Instead of finding out what the immigrants could do, the assessment activities concentrated on demonstrating what they will not be able to do in a Swedish context.