Social integration of immigrants is on top of the political agenda in most Western countries (Laurentsyeva and Ventturini, 2017). For immigrants, social integration means increased participation in social exchange ensuring access to essentials like food, clothes, shelter and inter-human contact between new and old fellowmen. For society, successful integration is expected to create a richer society of civilized, multicultural exchange. Insufficient integration, on the other hand, may result in increased social inequalities and produce explosive identity conflicts (Rudmin, 2003; Üstüner and Holt 2007), intranational cultural clashes (Huntington, 1993), a surge of ‘wasted lives’ (Bauman, 2004; Davis 2006), and a demise of democracy (Barber, 1995).
Thus far, most research has addressed social integration in terms of access to education and employment. Less attention has been paid to immigrants’ integration into markets for goods and services through suitable consumption practices. To some extent, this neglect is understandable since the integration into the former spheres tends to be seen as a prerequisite for gaining the income needed to become integrated into the latter sphere, i.e. to be able to fulfil the role as consumer in the market.
Moreover, the mere consideration of markets as a context for integration may seem as a paradox, since markets and consumption tend to increase social inequality rather than decreasing it. For example, high-income groups tend to be seen as more profitable customers and, hence, to get better offerings such as lower interest rates in insurances and loans than low-income groups. Indeed, markets and products may be consciously segmented in order to attract certain customers and screen out others (Stiglitz and Weiss 1981). High income and an extravagant style of consumption may also open doors to new, powerful positions. Fashion, a critical phenomenon in consumer markets, in itself entails a propensity for marginalization and exclusion (Vejlgaard 2008).
Nevertheless, seen in a larger perspective, markets for labour and markets for goods and services form part of the same overall circuit, constituting a circular flow, which is vital to society. The creation of markets for goods and services needs a population of customers who are able to buy. In turn, they need to have an income—ideally from employment, and the creation of employment needs consumption. Hence, to obtain sustainable social integration, arguably, one needs to understand processes taking place in both spheres. Our standpoint is that patterns of consumption are an important aspect of social integration and people’s quality of life.
However, consumption is not only performed under conditions of capitalistic markets. Originally, the term consumption referred to the process of exhausting one’s resources, be it food, a candle, or other items (Trentman, 2016). The body, too, consumes in order to function. Thus, consumption entails not only the process of acquisition but also the later stages of use and disposal. Without consumption, it is not possible to take part in activities in school classes, workplaces or other social settings. Even though some forms of consumption require income, money is not sufficient to ensure social integration. Numerous unwritten rules about how money should be spent and how goods and services should be used, matter as well. For example, purchasing an apartment requires some insights into quite complicated systems, including mortgages and interest rates, value appraisals, requirements for waterproofing wet areas in residential buildings, neighborhood prospects, etc., insights that are vital not only to get a decent place to live, but also increase peoples’ chance of being integrated in neighborhoods. Knowing how to obtain and wear winter clothes and equipment may increase peoples’ participation in outdoor activities, vital for inclusion in a country such as Norway. Knowing local gift exchange and food customs may make it easier for people to enjoy birthday parties and other social gatherings. Although important, education and employment are not a prerequisite for taking part in social activities connecting people in voluntary work or for taking part in spontaneous chats in shops, at gyms, at a bar, or during a hike in the mountains. Understanding the role of consumption in processes of social integration is important not only to increase immigrants’ chances for getting education and employment, but also to ensure social integration in a much wider set of arenas.
The problem addressed in this book is that inclusive and exclusive potential of markets and consumption are poorly understood, diminishing our chance to exploit the former potential at the expense of the latter. In the market literature, ‘inclusive markets’ basically refers to arenas for exchange of goods and services that are accessible to all people. The exchange of products can happen offline and online and usually requires money. ‘Inclusive consumption’, on the other hand, is a much broader concept designating a process encompassing not only consumer practices performed in the purchase situation, but also at the stages prior to and afterwards. Furthermore, it is not only a concept addressing practices taking place at formal marketplaces, but also in the household, at school, at work, and in organisations. Finally, it does not only refer to processes of acquiring, but also of giving gifts or transferring heritage in and between individuals and social groups. As such, inclusive consumption is a multifactor concept encompassing all actors involved in the creation of marketplaces and other areas of consumption: individuals and groups of immigrants and natives in and across generations, as well as businesses, authorities and organisations.
The main purpose of this book is to improve current knowledge of the inclusive and exclusive potentials of consumption in markets and adjacent arenas. Our research questions are:
What consumption practices can be identified among immigrants, and how do these practices differ from those of the rest of the population?
How can consumption practices among immigrants and other market actors increase and decrease social participation and inclusion?
How can socially excluding market practices be dissolved and replaced by more inclusive alternatives?
How can the connection between social participation and market practices be understood?
Addressing these questions, we hope to shed light on processes that may exclude immigrants from becoming integrated, as well as to pointing to means to dissolve these processes and unlock the inclusive potential of markets and consumption.
When talking about inclusion of immigrants, we are mainly concerned with groups from non-Western countries, in particular from Africa, Asia, South America, etc. living in Norway. In 2017, Africans (13,9%) and Asians (33,2%) represented the largest groups of immigrants in Norway, only beaten by Europeans (48,7%) (SSB, 2018). As such, most chapters address immigrants living in a Scandinavian welfare state characterized by, amongst other things, a relatively large public sector, robust economy, low social inequality, and a high level of trust, also in national government (Esping-Andersen, 1990; 1999).
Before the 1970s, the proportion of immigrants was very low and mainly came from other West European countries or the USA. In 2017, the proportion of immigrants had increased to 17,3% (including people born in Norway of immigrant parents). The most frequent reason for immigrating to Norway in 2017 was family reunion, followed by labour, protection needs and education. The number of refugees arriving each year varies related to wars, conflicts and geopolitical conditions around the world (SSB, 2018).
Hence, since the 1970s, Norway has changed from being a relatively homogeneous country into being a heterogeneous, multicultural society. Norwegians’ attitude towards immigrants have varied. In the 1980s one could observe negative attitudes, but they became more positive from 1993 to 2015 (Hellevik and Hellevik, 2017). That said, the majority of the population still state that the country should accept fewer immigrants than it currently does. Concerns that immigration leads to a lack of security and terrorism, as well as beliefs that immigration threatens national values and the welfare state, split the population roughly in half (Brekke and Mohn, 2018). Divided attitudes towards immigration have also been observed in other Western countries. Although there is no evidence indicating that the context of immigrants in Norway differs significantly from those experienced by immigrants in other West European countries, there are also characteristics that are considered ‘typically Norwegian’ such as a strong equality norm and a high level of trust in and between institutions. Some of these characteristics, which in varying degrees will be further described in the book’s chapters, imply that some of the book’s research results cannot be generalized to countries outside Norway without caution.
Before we provide a short description of how each chapter of this book addresses these questions, a brief introduction to the theories underpinning the concept of ‘Inclusive Consumption’ is needed.
1.1 Ten concepts underpinning inclusive consumption
Inclusive consumption is a complex, multilayer and multifactor concept encompassing all actors at all levels in society involved in the co-creation of markets, i.e. both formal marketplaces and other social arenas in which consumption plays a meaningful and integrative role. The objective of this approach, as well as the definition of immigrant consumers and consumption underpinning it, are inspired by a number of theoretical perspectives. In this section, we introduce ten of these perspectives connecting the concept to the welfare society and its services, innovation studies, market theories and theories of consumption.
First of all, the concept of inclusive consumption is based on the notion that consumption constitutes an important aspect of the welfare society, driving and coordinating many aspects of life, including social integration (Bauman,2007). Consumption is, however, not seen as apart from, or the opposite of, the welfare society. Rather, consumption and the welfare society are closely interlinked, amongst other things through the concept ‘production’, i.e. the creation of economic value. It is often suggested that economic value is created through production and that consumption cannot take place without production. However, without consumption, production would be valueless and non-existent. Already in 1776, Adam Smith announced that consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production. Hundred years later, in 1871, William Stanley Jevons argued that value is created by consumers, not by the producers, as the value of the coat depends on how much a person desires it.
Another concept linking consumption to the welfare society is ‘work’. In economic theory, the concept of work is often limited to paid work taking place in the ‘production sphere’. However, inspired by the work of Glucksmann (e.g., 2016), we argue that all forms of work, also those taking place outside the production sphere—in leisure activities, in voluntary organizations and in the domestic sphere—can be seen as work. For example, the process of food preparation combines the work of farmers, manufacturers and retailers undertaken at different stages of the division of labour up to the point of sale. Other examples are the consumers’ distribution and assembling of IKEA furniture and the ordering of flight tickets online. As illustrated by these examples, very few products or services are complete, or immediately ready to use, at the point of final transaction without prior intervening activity on the part of the consumer. According to Glucksmann (2016), it is the final preparation for use that determines what exactly is consumed. Even in the case of drinking water, what is finally consumed, a glass from the tap, as tea, soup or squash, requires work that completes the process of production ‘from source to sip’ (Harvey, 2015). From Glucksmann’s perspective (2016), all work necessary for the purchase, use, re-use and disposal of consumption goods and services is ‘consumption work’ (in recent literature, often entitled ‘prosumption’), which is distinct from consumption itself (in its original sense of using or exhausting products).
A third concept linking consumption to the welfare society is the concept of multiprovisioning: the idea that the state is only one of many actors who can provide welfare services. Multiprovisioning can be connected to the 19th and 20th century ideas of neoliberalism, which had a renaissance in the 1980s after a post-war period dominated by Keynesian consensus. In contrast to the Keynesian model, encouraging strong state intervention in the economy, strong trade unions, heavy regulation, high taxes, and a generous welfare state (Dutton, 1997), neoliberalism calls for privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade (Goldstein, 2011) and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society (Boas and Gans-Morse, 2009). One consequence of neoliberalism is that public services become more similar to private markets by being exposed to competition and their customers’ ‘freedom of choice’. Some public services have also a price, for example a fee or a transport cost tour/retour to/from the shop, which increases social inequality by making them more accessible for affluent consumers, and less accessible for consumer groups having problems affording day to day expenses. A Danish study of free hospital choices shows that it is mainly utilized by the affluent and better-educated part of the population (Danish Economic Council, 2009, p. 292), indicating that vulnerable groups have more difficulties leveraging their consumer power when providers of public services have little interest in engaging them as customers (Kaukonen & Stenius, 2005, p. 143). As the limit between public services and private markets in some regards is blurred, we have in this book also included chapters addressing markets that are traditionally labelled public services.
A fourth source of inspiration is a rising yet under-researched and undertheorized concept often referred to as ‘Inclusive innovation’. In short, Inclusive innovation means innovation aiming to decrease social inequality in society by developing goods and services that also poor people have access to and can afford. The concept is based on the observation that social inequalities are some of today’s most pressing challenges facing most countries in the world, and that ethnic origin is one of characteristics connected to social inequalities (OECD, 2016; 2017). Inclusive innovations can be initiated by different kinds of actors (authorities, businesses, organizations, and individuals) at all levels in society (global, national and local), also by disadvantaged groups themselves. In fact, according to Heeks et al., 2013, p. 2, other designations for ‘inclusive innovation’ are, besides ‘pro poor innovations’, ‘below the radar innovation’ and ‘grassroots innovation’. If innovations are initiated by authorities or businesses, disadvantaged groups or their organisations should be invited to take part in the innovation processes ensuring that innovations actually address challenges faced by these groups. Inspired by the concept of Inclusive innovations, Inclusive consumption has a normative basis supporting the political goal of reducing social inequality through both top-down and bottom-up initiated change. In essence, researching inclusive consumption is about fighting against discrimination and for the human right to be a full member of society.
Other concepts inevitably lurking in the background in a book addressing markets and consumption are the concepts of ‘the perfect market’ and ‘the sovereign consumer’. In basic, neo-classic market theory, consumers tend to be seen as strong actors who through individual, rational choices of the best products at the lowest price create ‘a perfect market’ characterized by a perfect equilibrium between demand, production and consumption. In reality, neither the sovereign consumer nor the perfect market exists, amongst other reasons because consumers are seldom, if ever, fully informed about the products offered, because they lack knowledge about the products and their use, because they are—or let themselves be—seduced by marketing, and because their notion of ‘the best product’ varies. The acquisition situation can be complex and various aspects have to be evaluated against each other, such as price, products’ accessibility, the products’ technical functionality, aesthetic design and their ability to express identity and social belonging such as gender, social class, political values and ethnicity.
Most immigrant consumers will tend to meet higher barriers than natives simply because they are not natives. The seventh concept underpinning our notion of inclusive consumption is inspired by theories on ‘vulnerable consumers’ (e.g., Hamilton et al., 2016; Baker et al., 2016). From this perspective, people, conditions, and experiences can be characterized as vulnerable (a status) or by vulnerability (a state). Consumption experienced and characterized as a state often takes place in times of transition, such as a migration to a new country or after a job loss, bereavement, ill health, natural disaster, changing status due to ageing (e.g. reaching retirement age), or the identity and the change of practices taking place when people become parents. Being a vulnerable consumer is thereby something that most people will experience at some point in life. Often, studies of vulnerable consumption explore the vulnerable states’ potential for harm or the materialization of harm. However, Brown (2012) connects the notion of vulnerability to courage and human development. All humans are imperfections, she says. Seeking to avoid being vulnerable may imply that one suppresses essential emotions, evades love and opportunities for personal transformation. Inspired by these theories, we see immigrants as a potential risk group and as social groups of people that may be in a vulnerable situation, permanently or temporarily, due to their migration. For some, vulnerable situations may result in a negative spiral heading towards abysmal debt. For others, they may inspire towards a better life. The outcome of the vulnerable situations is, however, not only the result of individual choices, but of the opportunity structure in individuals’ social surroundings.
Yet, while vulnerable in many respects, it needs to be emphasized that immigrants may also have certain special strengths as consumers. They may have good access to foreign markets, with possibilities of importing (and perhaps retailing) goods. They may be embedded in strong diaspora networks, circulating information, loans, goods and services etc. As navigating several cultures, perhaps keeping updated on the political and cultural affairs in both the new country and the country of origin, immigrants have the possibility of strengthening the intercultural competencies, something that may be advantageous across consumer markets.
Indeed, in consumer research, there are examples of studies perceiving immigrants as strong actors. One example is a study of young Turkish immigrant men in Germany using German status symbols like BMW to express their male, German identity and to blend in in the German society (Luedicke and Gielser, 2009). Another example is studies showing that remittances may help families in the home country and reduce poverty at the global level (The World Bank, 2010). However, although these studies provide a picture of immigrants as strong consumers who actively use consumption and their network to carve out a better life for themselves and their loved ones, there is often another side of the story. Immigrants’ expression of identity and social belonging to their host country are not always well received by natives (Luedicke and Giesler, 2009), and remittances reduce immigrants’ disposable income and, hence, structure of choices and opportunities in the new country (The World Bank, 2010).
We have already stated our basic view on consumption as an essential process of using without which life would be impossible. However, consumption is not only a biological/social necessity, but also an activity making meaning in people’s life. This is our eighth perspective. A telling example of a study perceiving consumption as a coping mechanism in everyday life is conducted by Oka in an article addressing consumption in refugee camps. In this article, Oka accuses the relief discourse of falsely treating refugee camp economies and the resulting black markets and commercial consumption as detrimental for the relief process and the refugees. He also criticizes the discourse of seeing consumption of ‘luxuries and comforts’ as costly, trivial, unreasonable, and of seeing consumption as a nonessential economy that refugees, despite the negative effects and the high costs of consumption, make strenuous efforts to participate in. Based on an ethnographic study of refugee commercial consumption at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya in 2008 and 2011, Oka argues (ibid., p. 1) that the consumption is rather an important, reasonable, and even essential form of activity providing tangible benefits beyond the ability to fill relief gaps.
It [consumption] provides a forum whereby refugees can feel ‘normal’ and gain ‘dignity,’ and cope with the long wait and the static transience of refugee life. Attaining normalcy and dignity through consumption may even enable structural stability amid the dangerous and volatile conditions of refugee settlements as well as mitigate the long-term effects of relief-induced agonism.
Although Oka’s study was conducted outside Norway, it clearly illustrates that even the most trivial ‘unnecessity’ or ‘luxury’ like a chewing gum or a plastic key ring may, under certain circumstances, provide meaning in people’s life.
The remaining theories underpinning the concept of inclusive consumption regard our understanding of the concept of consumption. One of them is ‘practice theory’, which can be described as a generic perspective referring to a number of theories characterized by their attempt to comprise both individualistic and structural approaches to social action. A basic assumption underpinning this perspective is that social practices form the foundation from which reality is created; the ground element from which society evolves (Ortner, 2006). The most cited definition is given by Reckwitz (2002, p. 2), who regards practice as
a routinized type of behavior which consists of several elements, interconnected to one other: forms of bodily activities, forms of mental activities, ‘things’ and their use, a background knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how, states of emotion and motivational knowledge.
Based on this definition, Shove et al. (2012) argues that practices are based on three elements: the element of meaning, referring to what Reckwitz (2002) called mental activities, emotions, and motivational knowledge; the element of competence, meaning multiple forms of understandings and practical knowledgeability; and the material element, encompassing objects, infrastructures, tools, hardware, and the body. Only when these elements are integrated and performed, are they a ‘practice’ in its right sense.
Practice theoretical approaches are particularly fruitful in consumption studies, first of all because they acknowledge the fact that most actions are based on habits and routines rather than, for example, rational behaviour. Rather than stressing the fact that people do not always do as they say they do, known in consumer studies as the ‘attitude-behavioural gap’, practice theoretical approaches tend to see people’s attitudes as a part of their behaviour, emphasizing what people actually do. Finally, practice theoretical perspectives pay more attention to the material aspects of reality than theories addressing ideas, ideologies, discourses, etc. (Ortner, 1984; Reckwitz, 2002; Schatzcki et al., 2001; Shove et al., 2012; Warde, 2005). A criticism of practice theories has been that they fail to fully explain social change. This criticism is, however, based on a false assumption that theories addressing routinized action must essentially neglect change. The fact is that many practice theoretical scholars are very concerned with explaining social change. The third research question of this book is, for example, highly inspired by the theories of Shove et al. (2012), maintaining that unfortunate practices can only be changed if they are identified, dissolved, and replaced by more fortunate practices.
Whereas practice theory deals with how consumption is constructed, the last theoretical orientation that we will draw upon is ‘consumer acculturation theory’ that relates consumption to a theory on integration. In everyday speech, most people in Norway associate the term integration with a process, in which immigrants increasingly adopt practices considered ‘Norwegian’. In consumer acculturation theory, however, integration represents one of many (originally four) forms of ‘acculturation’ addressing ‘what happens to individuals, who have developed in one cultural context, when they attempt to live in a new cultural context’ (Berry 1997, p. 5). Whereas integration refers to a process where immigrants adopt the new culture and keep the old; ‘assimilation’ refers to a process where they adopt to the new culture and leave the old; ‘segregation’ to a process where they keep the old and reject the new; and ‘marginalization’ to a process where they withdraw from both cultures (Berry 1980, 1997). Researchers using this theory have typically measured immigrants’ consumer patterns (how many-questions), their experiences and knowledge (how-questions) of immigrant groups, or, more lately, the role of natives in immigrants’ acculturation (Luedicke, 2011; 2015). Inspired by the theories of consumer acculturation, consumption is understood as an interwoven part of different processes of mixing the customs and practices of immigrants and natives. Important is not only how immigrants handle their new home context, but also the reactions of the natives and the policy influencing the acculturation.
Like acculturation theory, the concept of inclusive consumption springs out from consumption studies yet operates at the intersection of migration studies and consumption studies, addressing immigrants’ consumption and the response of the natives. However, whereas the acculturation theories for the most part operate at the individual level, the concept of inclusive consumption has a much broader scope connecting individual consumption to the welfare society and its ideals and services. In addition, inclusive consumption is a normative concept aiming to foster inclusive markets and consumption. Either inclusive consumption can be seen as an alternative to acculturation theory, or as a further development of this theory, putting more emphasis on the normative and political implication of immigrants’ and natives’ consumption practices. Nonetheless, inclusive consumption represents a highly ambitious concept for future research, of which the book’s nine articles represent a humble start. Brief overviews of the nine chapters are provided in the next section.
1.2 The book’s chapters
The complexity of the inclusive consumption concept is in this book approached through nine book chapters covering different types of consumption: food, clothes, shelter, mobile phones, leisure activities, employment agency services, physiotherapy education, health services, and consumer education. The complexity is also captured by an interdisciplinary approach involving authors educated within a variety of disciplines: Sociology, social-anthropology, ethnology, political science, media studies, journalism, social and rural development, social work, nursing, physiotherapy, textile engineering and design. All studies are, however, conducted at different units within OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University.
The book starts with a chapter written by Elisabeth Eide (Department of Journalism and Media Studies) dealing with the role of cell-phones during migration. Based on interviews with refugees underway to Europe, Eide finds that cell phones offer a multitude of functions, for example on how to find and exchange information about the escape route and potential host countries, and to keep in touch with worried family members back home. Some refugees report that for them, cell phones are more important than food. Due to the many important functions cell phones have en route, battery charging is a precarious issue, which at times is provided by fellow travellers, or by volunteers. Thus, some of the anxiety felt by the refugees and their loved ones may be somewhat reduced.
When migrants arrive in Norway, they enter into a structure of ideas, systems and infrastructures that in varying degrees differ from those left behind. One of these structures is the reception system in which the first preparations for a new life in a new country start. Based on interviews with a teacher in a language learning group for newly arrived immigrant children and with children in primary school in Oslo, Ingun Grimstad Klepp (SIFO), Kirsi Laitala (SIFO) and Silje E. Skuland (SIFO) explore in chapter three whether the current way of regulating children's clothes in the school contributes to promoting or preventing immigrant integration. The material revealed challenges related to immigrant children not dressing appropriately for the Norwegian climate and school activities due to lack of knowledge among parents or high costs, while children showed great willingness to dress like the others. Clothing consumption is essential for integration in school, and thus society. At the same time, this is not easily achievable, either economically, culturally or practically. Consequently, immigrant children may not take part in activities at school and in leisure time, which may reduce their chance of learning Norwegian and building a social network. Little is done to make Norwegian schools inclusive in this field of consumption.
Another structure to which immigrants need to adapt in their new country is the health system. In chapter four, Jonas Debesay (Department of Nursing and Health Promotion), Sanjana Arora (Department of Physiotherapy) and Astrid Bergland (Department of Physiotherapy) examine migrants’ use of health care services, paying special attention to economic aspects. National and international research indicates that despite equal needs, the use of health care services varies in and between the majority and minority groups. Health services that more or less fall out of the publicly covered healthcare benefits, like dental care, physiotherapy and private specialists, are least affordable. Even the low costs related to visiting public health care services may represent a challenge for some. To understand how these differences can be reduced, scientifically based knowledge about individual and structural barriers hindering minority groups from accessing and using health care services, is needed.
A third structure influencing immigrants’ social integration is the housing market, addressed in chapter five. Based on an analysis of the academic discourse of parallel societies as they come to expression in peer-reviewed articles in well-acknowledged scientific journals, Anita Borch (SIFO) confirms previous studies indicating that academic discourses on parallel societies emphasize the negative effect of migration rather than the positive. As negative perceptions of immigrants may strengthen segregation tendencies in society, which again may stimulate a self-energizing effect increasing segregation tendencies in society, researchers have an ethical responsibility to identify and dissolve biased discourses on immigration and replace them with more neutral concepts, Borch maintains.
The educational system is also a structure to which immigrants have to adapt in their new country. Based on a case study of a course in personal economy offered to refugees in a municipality in Norway, Anita Borch (SIFO) and Live Standal Bøyum (SIFO) explore in chapter six how the concept of ‘necessary consumer knowledge’ is understood in a Norwegian context. The research indicates that the course tends to emphasize immigrants’ individual responsibility for their personal finances. As many barriers hindering immigrants from acting like ‘rational consumers’ are outside their control, the researchers argue that consumer education has to be combined with other policy measures regulating the structural conditions influencing immigrant consumers as well.
In the seventh chapter, the labour market and the inclusive potential of temporary employment agencies for inclusion of immigrants and refugees are explored. Drawing on a review of previous studies and interviews of representatives from temporary employment agencies, Lise Cecilie Kleppe and Blanka Støren-Vaczy, both employed at the Department of Social Work, Child Welfare and Social Policy, are particularly looking at the private services of temporary employment agencies and their impact on immigrants’ employment. The research concludes that the services of temporary employment agencies may increase immigrants’ access to temporary and permanent work by lowering the risk of hiring immigrants. However, some immigrants will stay unemployed and as such be customers of NAV. To lower employers’ risks of hiring these immigrants, Kleppe and Støren-Vaczy suggest that NAV can learn from temporary employment services by building trust between employers and NAV.
In the next chapters, we are taking a closer look at children’s consumption practices. Drawing on qualitative interviews with immigrant families in Oslo and the rural surroundings, Silje E. Skuland (SIFO) observes in chapter eight that low-income immigrant families struggle to let their children participate in the packed lunch practice performed in Norwegian schools, in part because it is too expensive, in part because this is not the food they usually eat. Her conclusion is that the food practice of packed lunch constitutes a form of packed lunch poverty which immigrant families are particularly vulnerable to. Skuland suggests that packed lunch poverty can be combated through free school meals, education in ethnic cuisine, more multi-cultural food lunch practices, and increased financial aid to low-income families with many children.
The ninth chapter, written by Mari Rysst (SIFO and Inland University of Applied Sciences), addresses children living in the Norwegian town, Lillehammer, and their possibilities of taking part in football activities in leisure time. In this chapter, Rysst finds that immigrant boys and girls tend not to play football. As football plays a decisive role in the native children’s ‘economy of dignity’, in short understood as the culture of children deciding the activities and items needed to take part in peer groups, immigrant children are, in practice, excluded from most peer group activities. The football club leaders were familiar with the problems and had made some attempt to include immigrant children, e.g. reduced the expenses of taking part, however, so far, unsuccessfully, probably because financial constraints are only some of many interwoven barriers hindering participation. More knowledge is according to Rysst needed to understand the barriers hindering immigrant children from taking part in children’s culture of dignity.
In the last chapter we move from leisure activities among 13 year-old children to the educational choices of young immigrants and explore to what extent notions of the body can explain why immigrant students are underrepresented in physiotherapy education. Based on qualitative interviews and observations of immigrant physiotherapy students, Tone Dahl-Michelsen (Department of Physiotherapy), suggests that one factor explaining the underrepresentation may be that the study requires a Norwegian body practice including a special way of dressing and handling the body that young immigrants may be unfamiliar with. More including body practices, as well as more information about the study and role models of immigrant physiotherapists, are some of many factors that can increase the number of immigrants in physiotherapy studies.
Overall, the chapters of this book shed light upon the role of consumption in social integration, a subject which tends to be ignored in immigration studies. That being said, more knowledge on this subject is needed, not least to empower immigrants to exploit their opportunities and rights individually and collectively as consumers, and to develop effective educational programs and other policy measurement aiming to exploit the benefit of successful integration and fight the consequences of integration failures. By this, we do not mean to suggest that social integration is a responsibility that immigrants have to carry alone. Rather, it is also, if not more, up to the integration authorities, in cooperation with other actors involved with the co-creations of social arenas, to ensure that immigrants have the resources needed to become full members of the society. Nor do we mean to suggest that immigrants should learn to assimilate to Norwegian consumption practices. Rather, we should use immigrants’ perceptions of how different practices contribute to including and excluding them and other social groups from taking part, and from this facilitate change, making social integration easier for all.