Swedish Somali Children Dumped? On Families, Parents, and Children in a Transnational Context

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Swedish Somali Children Dumped? On Families, Parents, and Children in a Transnational Context

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Swedish Somali Children Dumped? On Families, Parents, and Children in a Transnational Context
Author(s) Johnsdotter, Sara
Date 2006
English abstract
In the spring of 2003 the Swedish mass media highlighted a phenomenon that came to be labelled “dumped children”. The cases concern Swedish Somali children who are brought to Somalia by their legal guardians, and who wish to return to Sweden. In this paper the global Somali clan structure, the Somali family concept and ideas on upbringing of children will be discussed. For a comparison, there will also be a brief discussion on the western nuclear family model and the kind of relations between parents and children which are seen as ideal in the West. Emotionality in both systems is discussed. Further, there is a description of the phenomenon that Somali children are generally seen as mobile – they migrate between relatives within national borders, but transnationally as well. In a family system based on a concept of segmented parenthood (in this case that all adult relatives are potential parents), children’s mobility may work as a system to optimise children’s future prospects. The Swedish Somali parental generation experiences a loss of authority in relation to the younger generation. The encounter with Swedish welfare institutions is often experienced as a threat to the Somali families. Conclusions when it comes to so called “dumping” of children in Somalia include: - This is a phenomenon which is a small part of a much bigger picture. It is common that children and young people migrate between relatives all over the world. Somalia is one among several countries where children are sent. - Somalia is chosen in some cases for being a Muslim country, and a country void of alcohol and (heavy) drugs. - Somali children and young people migrate within the scope of a continuum which include voluntary and willing moving as one extreme and reluctant and forced moving as another. The children highlighted in the Swedish mass media are some of those who were brought to Somalia against their own will. - The phenomenon described as “dumping” in the Swedish mass media is often about “returning” a foster child, when the custodians in Sweden have lost control of the socialisation process and no longer dare to be responsible for the child’s future.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) family construction
clan structure
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Note The conference “The Double Heritage of Democracy”, Helsinki, 11-14 May 2006.
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/9261 (link to this page)

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