Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Constructing the “Good Citizen”: Discourses of Social Inclusion in Swedish Civic Orientation

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Abstract:  Sweden has long been described as a beacon of multiculturalism and generous access to citizenship, with integration policies that seek to offer free and equal access to the welfare state. In this article, we use the policy of Civic Orientation for Newly Arrived Migrants as a case with which to understand how migrants’ inclusion is discursively articulated and constructed by the different constituencies involved in interpreting the policy and organising and teaching the course. We do this by employing Foucault’s closely interrelated concepts of technology of self, political technology of individuals, and governmentality. With the help of critical discourse analysis, we illustrate how migrants’ inclusion is framed around an opposition between an idealised “good citizen” and a “target population” (Schneider & Ingram, 1993). In our analysis, we draw on individual interviews with 14 people involved in organising civic orientation and on classroom observations of six civic orientation courses. Firstly, we show how migrants are constructed as unknowing and in need of being fostered by the state. Secondly, we illustrate how social inclusion is presented as being dependent upon labour market participation, both in terms of finding work and in terms of behaving correctly in the workplace. Lastly, we show how migrant women are constructed as being problematically chained to the home and therefore needing to subject themselves to a specific political technology of self to be included.

Keywords:  citizenship; civic orientation; critical discourse analysis; Foucault; migration



© Simon Bauer, Tommaso M. Milani, Kerstin von Brömssen, Andrea Spehar. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.