Like many other European societies, Sweden faces challenges related to social exclusion and integration. In 2014, Interpeace launched a pilot project to explore whether Interpeace’s approach could help to address the emerging tensions in the suburbs of Stockholm in Tensta.
The district of Tensta is a suburb of Stockholm that is home to a large number of immigrants. It experienced social unrest and protests in 2012 and 2013. Young people took an active part, demanding that their voices be heard. These incidents brought to light a significant gap between people with an immigrant background and other Swedes. Many Swedes perceive Tensta as one of the most dangerous areas in the country, and it is often portrayed negatively in the media. Its residents, however, are proud to live in such a multicultural and diverse environment. This gap in perception has become an obstacle to social cohesion.
The pilot project, called Change for Tensta, engaged residents and members of local government and civil society in a process to better understand the sources of tension and to identify options to address them. A report and video capture the hopes and dreams of the residents.
Consultations revealed that exclusion – in a context of a generalized increase in socio-economic inequality and linked to a struggle in the definition of identity – is affecting the residents of Tensta and contributes to its marginalization from the rest of Swedish society. Such exclusion and marginalization feelings are known to affect a growing number of Swedish communities.
Building on the Change for Tensta initiative and the insights it yielded, Interpeace recently launched a project seeking to assist Swedish society in promoting a more inclusive culture. Through consultations in different areas of Sweden and a public engagement strategy, the ‘We are Sverige’ initiative will shed light on what inclusion means to various local communities, including continuing its engagement in Tensta, and explore how all Swedes can contribute to making their society more inclusive.
For more information in Swedish, visit the website of Interpeace Sweden.