Immigrant responses to xenophobia and discrimination in the Swedish labor market

What strategies do those born abroad use to handle xenophobia and discrimination in the labor market? Are there differences due to gender or class?

– a qualitative and comparative approach to the study of ethnic boundaries

An increasing number of international studies describe how individuals from minority groups deal with stigma and discrimination in everyday life. This research is important for the understanding of ethnic inequality since these strategies to some extent affect how social exclusion occurs. The project contributes to this field of research by studying these issues in the Swedish context. The project aims to:

  • Study the strategies that immigrants from the Middle East and former Yugoslavia use to minimize effects of xenophobia and discrimination in the workplace. I am interested in how perceptions of equal opportunities and xenophobia relate to these strategies. I investigate possible differences in terms of class and gender and compare the two immigrant groups.
  • Deepen our understanding of ethnic boundaries. What can be achieved with the different strategies depends ultimately on the nature of ethnic boundaries (e.g. strength, permeability, rigidness). An analysis of the relationship between strategies and boundaries will thus provide a deeper understanding of the preconditions for dealing with xenophobia and discrimination.
  • Compare our data with results from similar international studies. Data will be retrieved through in-depth interviews with randomly selected employed interviewees from the targeted groups.



Principal Investigator

Moa Bursell Associate Professor in Sociology and research leader at the Institute for Futures Studies


The Swedish Research Council