Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Migrants’ Inclusion in Civil Societies: The Case of Language Cafés in Sweden

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Abstract:  This article investigates the role of language cafés as venues where newly arrived migrants to Sweden can socialize and practice the target language. More specifically, we aim to explore how café organizers and volunteers orient to social inclusion as they are interviewed about the goals of the local café and engage in talk‐in‐interaction with the visitors during video‐recorded café sessions. At the methodological level, we rely on ethnomethodologically informed ethnography and conversation analysis, through which we adopt an emic approach to data analysis by taking into account the members’ interpretation of their social world and the actions they accomplish in it. Our analysis uncovers the organizers’ and volunteers’ conceptualization of social inclusion, which they articulate in terms of fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment; they also perceive the mutual benefits derived from the encounters with the migrants at the local café. Overall, the migrants’ views dovetail with the concept of “everyday citizenship,” which highlights the dimensions of belonging, rights, and access to resources for social participation as constitutive of social inclusion. These findings highlight the perceived role of language cafés as a way to act on the existing social reality to transform the local community into an inclusive, equal, and integrated society.

Keywords:  civic activities; civil societies; emic perspective; language café; migration; social inclusion; Sweden


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© Ali Reza Majlesi, Gunilla Jansson, Silvia Kunitz. 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.