The Swedish Nightmare: The Dismantlement of Bounding Social Capital in Scandinavian Welfare States

Shahamak Rezaei, Marco Goli

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Between the 1980s and the early 1990s, a large number of Iranian immigrants/refugees settled in Scandinavian countries; Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Though granted the same benefits of the welfare system as the natives, Iranian immigrants have obvious difficulties entering the labor market and each year numerous highly educated/skilled Iranians once again leave their place of residence to relocate to another country that, they believe, provide relatively better opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility. Investigating available quantitative data on Iranian immigrants in Scandinavia, we found, quite surprisingly, a paradox: Iranian immigrants in Scandinavia demonstrate an obviously high level of cultural integration in the host society’s values and norms and they are generally one of the most educated immigrant groups in Scandinavia, while they, on the other hand, demonstrate a relatively low level of labor market participation as wage-earner or entrepreneurs, and their average income compared to their position in the acculturation process is quite low. Being the first study to address this paradox, our study attempts to elaborate on factors and circumstances that create this paradox. This investigation and the provided evidence challenge a wide range of theoretical perspectives on integration, as well as established political perceptions of the relationship between educational level, cultural integration, and upward socioeconomic mobility among immigrants. Departing from empirical evidence we attempt, through an integrated methodology (i.e., induction-deduction and open, axial, and selective coding and saturation) (Gibbs, 2007) and theoretical reflection, to generate some plausible hypothesis.
TitelHandbook of Racism, Xenophobia, and Populism : All Forms of Discrimination in the United States and Around the Globe
RedaktørerAdebowale Akande
Antal sider25
Publikationsdato9 dec. 2022
ISBN (Trykt)9783031135583
ISBN (Elektronisk)9783031135590
StatusUdgivet - 9 dec. 2022
NavnSpringer handbooks of political science and international relations


  • Ambivalent Loyality
  • Upward socioeconomic mobility
  • Cultural and social integration
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Labor market integration
  • Self-employment

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