Forestillede forskelle - En barriere for gensidig integration og fællesskaber mellem unge med forskellig etnisk baggrund

  • Sabine Klinker
  • Marie Hvoslef Rasmussen


Imagined Differences - A barrier to integration and experience of community between adolescents with different ethnic backgrounds This article examines the experience of community and belonging among adolescents in a public secondary school in Albertslund, a suburban area of Copenhagen with an ethnically heterogeneous population. The article is based on the assumption that ethnicity plays a secondary role in friendship-making and experiencing community, while shared interests are of greater importance. However, the case study falsifies this assumption. In everyday life, the adolescents show respect for one another, and their communication is characterised by a positive attitude. However, they also tend to socialise according to their ethnic background. Thus adolescents with a Danish background hang out and keep to themselves as a rule, while adolescents with other ethnic backgrounds than Danish tend to identify themselves as non-Danish. This division is experienced as ‘natural’ by the adolescents, who therefore have limited interaction with other ethnic groups. The article suggests that the division is a consequence of ‘imagined differences’. These differences are primarily built up around religion, and especially the dichotomy of Muslim or non-Muslim, which tends to overshadow potential similarities, such as the shared experience of having been born and raised in Denmark, playing football together or attending the same parties. The article discusses possible solutions, including a redefinition of what it means to be Danish, in order to facilitate a more inclusive understanding of who ‘We’ and ‘They’ are.