RE-LEARNING PEACE Acculturation in young adult refugees’ conceptions of violence following migration to Sweden
Aim: The general goal of this study is to assess whether and how refugees’ understanding of violence changes, in their own view, following migration, given an acculturation framework that is concerned with the individual psychology of acculturation. Data collection and analysis focuses (a) on the perceived moral warrant of violence, by asking how refugees distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable force; and (b) the extent to which that distinction, in their own view, has shifted following their migration into Sweden. Theory: In order to explain different ways in which young adult refugees felt they acculturated their conception of violence, and assess how well they thought they adapted their conceptions of violence in the Swedish context, Berry’s acculturation theory is adopted as a theoretical perspective throughout this study. Method: The investigation takes the form of a qualitative study with semi-structured individual interviews. Snow-ball sampling is used to reach the target population, young adult refugees. Five respondents are interviewed, twice each on separate occasions. NVivo are then used to subject the interview transcripts to text content analysis. Results: The findings from the interviews show that young adult refugees describe “violence” differently across the timeline of their life events, and distinguish violence and non-violence phenomena from that experiential perspective. They make morally evaluative judgments about reasonable and unreasonable force by considering the harshness of violence in light of the goals of violence. The different conception of violence in Sweden is generally welcomed but at same time causes cognitive conflict between their original culture and new culture in terms of both the definition and tolerance of violence. Berry’s acculturation theory is able to explain to some extent the refugees’ complex acculturation process in terms of network of relationship, power relation and degree of acculturation. Underneath their willing acculturation however, respondents also feel unreasonable pressure to conform to Swedish norms, regardless of good judgement.