Visibly ethnically mixed couples: An overlooked racialised category in psychosocial service provision in Denmark

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This paper deals with the experiences of the ethnically mixed couples and relevant service provision in Denmark. Despite the increasing numbers of the mixed couples, their own voices are hardly heard due to historical silencing of mixedness and colorblind ideology.
Ten in-depth interviews and two case studies* of couples across ethnic/religious borders – one native Danish partner and the other originating from India/ Pakistan, form the presentation’s empirical basis. The theoretical framework transcends the two strands of research focusing on either the family cultural practices or the structural aspects. Cultural psychology forms the background, foregrounded by a combination of intersectionality, transnationalism and the data is thematically analysed.
The results indicate that mixed couples are subjected to discrimination processes, including gaze as ‘the others’. Awareness/racial literacy and indifference are the two dominant strategies of coping with these. The former is illustrated through an awareness of these processes in domains such as the labour market; the stereotypical views of family members; curious questions, while marginalising the family history; overlooking family traditions at dynamic level; the majority partner not noticing unequal power and privilege discourses illustrate the latter.
Overlooking the gaze and the other discrimination processes in the short term may be an adaptive strategy in a racist society, but over time such strategies can precipitate conflicted identities -detrimental to both the partners and the society.
There is no official acceptance of mixedness, as in Denmark’s statistics - ethnically mixed children are categorised as “Danes” and a glaring lack of relevant services for mixed couples and their children, which implies institutional racism - collective failure of organisation to provide appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour and (mixed) ethnic origin. Lastly, suggestions for mental health promotion and psychosocial intervention for ethnically mixed couples and their children experiencing problems are proposed.

*Singla, R. (2015) “Intermarriage, Mixed Parenting, Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing: Crossover Love Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Publikationsdato1 nov. 2019
StatusUdgivet - 1 nov. 2019
BegivenhedTracing Social Problems and Racialization in Europe: Social Control, Violence and Ethnic others - Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde, Danmark
Varighed: 4 nov. 20195 nov. 2019


KonferenceTracing Social Problems and Racialization in Europe
LokationRoskilde Universitet
AndetEuropean mass media and politics have over the years articulated shifting, urgent social problems – from honor-based violence, social control, youth gangs, to radicalized and terror-prone Muslims. Images of suppressed Muslim women, urban deprivation, ghettoization, and the underclass combined with growing fears surrounding national security and masculinities-in-crisis position ethnic minorities, and especially Muslims, as a recurrent folk devil in European imaginaries (cf. Alexander 2000).<br/><br/>While claims makers declare a given condition as of urgent concern for society ─ charting a problem that must be addressed including directing ways and means of solving it ─ others respond to those claims and rework them. Put differently, social problems go through societal processes of construction (‘discovery’), reconstruction and consolidation by various stakeholders as the media, the general public, social workers, policymakers, and critics engage in assessing the effectiveness of the policy in question.<br/><br/>Focusing on how certain behaviours, actions or norms in Europe come to be understood – problematized and suggested solved – as social problems, this conference explores how racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender formations play into the emergence, and consolidation, of some practices as social problems.<br/><br/>Whereas some strands of research tie social problems such as social control to an inner, cultural essence in ethnic minority-individuals and primarily explore cultural and religious dynamics within the ethnic minority individuals, families and communities, other studies turn to the consequences of what is understood as an institutionalization of a culturalist line of thought (cf. Keskinen 2017). This strand of research problematizes culturalist discourses, including the intervention programs such discourses give rise to, for being nationalist, racialized and securitized and takes the alternative route of exploring the consequences of the discourses’ institutionalization. While this approach includes analyses of majority politics, media discourses and intervention programs concerning the minority cultures and individuals deemed defective, the first approach primarily explores discourses, norms and practices in ethnic minority families and communities, relating them to culture, race or religion. Notably, the two strands of research rarely consider how both aspects feed into one another when practices around social problems such as social control occur.<br/><br/> <br/><br/>Approaching social control, violence and youth gangs as particularly discernible examples of racialized social problems that have gained vast attention, we look to historicize and contextualize these, and related, issues (cf. Ugelvik 2019). We encourage examinations of interactions between majority politics, institutionalization of discourses and intervention programs ─ and critical engagements with other structural conditions ─ as well as explorations of ethnic minority practices and dynamics surrounding diverse forms of issues deemed social problems.

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