Article | Open Access
Political Integration in Practice: Explaining a Time-Dependent Increase in Political Knowledge among Immigrants in Sweden
Abstract: Scholarly findings suggest that immigrants in Western countries, in general, participate less in politics and show lower levels of political efficacy than native-born citizens. Research is scarce, however, when it comes to immigrants’ knowledge about politics and public affairs in their new home country, and what happens with this knowledge over the years. This article focuses on immigrants in Sweden, a country known for ambitious multicultural policies, but where immigrants also face disadvantages in areas such as labor and housing markets. Utilizing particularly suitable survey data we find that immigrants, in general, know less about Swedish politics than natives, but also that this difference disappears with time. Exploring the influence of time of residence on political knowledge, the article shows that the positive effect of time in Sweden among immigrants remains after controlling for an extensive set of background factors. Moreover, the article examines this political learning effect through the lens of an Ability–Motivation–Opportunity (AMO) model. The findings suggest that the development of an actual ability to learn about Swedish politics—via education in Sweden, and by improved Swedish language skills—is an especially important explanation for the increase in political knowledge.
Keywords: ability; education; immigrants; language skills; motivation; opportunity; political information; political knowledge; Sweden; time-related differences
© Per Adman, Per Strömblad. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.