Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Immigrants’ Experiences of Settling in a Rural Community in Norway: Inclusion and Exclusion Through “Being Seen”

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Abstract:  This article sets out from two dominant and contradictive narratives about immigrant integration in rural areas in Norway. The first holds that rural areas are “better at integration” as relations in these communities are more tight‐knit and personal. The other holds that integration in rural areas is more difficult due to the homogeneity and closed‐mindedness of rural communities. Based on ethnographic in‐depth interviews with individuals with different immigration backgrounds living in a rural coastal community, the article explores their perceptions of rural integration and their experiences of inclusion and exclusion in the local community. By using the notion of “being seen” as an analytical lens, the article shows that both narratives of rural integration are engaged and that experiences of inclusion and exclusion are interwoven and complex. On the one hand, “being seen” points to more personalised relations and support; on the other, it points to concerns by immigrants that they are seen by locals as “others.” The lens of visibility and “being seen” allows for a more nuanced understanding of immigrants’ experiences with settling in and finding their place in rural areas, and strengthens the argument for studying rural areas as a particular context for inclusion.

Keywords:  hypervisibility; inclusion; integration; Norway; rurality; visibility



© Turid Sætermo, Angelina Penner Gjertsen, Guro Korsnes Kristensen. 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.