Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

The Role of Leisure Practices and Local Identity in Migrants’ Inclusion in Two Rural Norwegian Municipalities

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Abstract:  This article discusses the role of local identity and local leisure practices in migrants’ inclusion processes in two rural Norwegian localities. The discussed study was conducted in municipalities that had experienced increased international migration following the EU expansion in 2004 and had a long history of internal in‐migration. In the study, individuals’ social inclusion and belonging processes are treated as inseparable from a locality’s dominant local narratives, practices, and norms—drawing on theories on inclusion/exclusion processes in places. Based on findings from semi‐structured interviews with local natives, internal migrants, and international migrants, the study found that different leisure practices were central to local identity in the two localities, which had implications for what was expected of migrants in order for them to be accepted locally. These findings align with what is commonly conceived as outdated community study research findings. The findings indicate the continued relevance of the local for people’s identification and migrants’ inclusion processes and support a need for closer theoretical and methodological integration of internal and international migration research. Another central finding was that in one of the localities, national narratives about civic engagement were evoked by some majority Norwegians as additional arguments for the importance of migrants’ involvement in local leisure activities. These interviewees’ main concern appeared to be ensuring local—rather than national—cultural continuity and cohesion. Finally, the different inclusion grammars in the two localities illustrate that inclusion processes in one locality should not by default be seen as representative of what is transpiring in a nation‐state.

Keywords:  community studies; domestic migration; inclusion; international migration; local identity; national identity; place theories; social spatialisation



© Brit Lynnebakke. 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.