Methodology and Workplan

In accordance with EDUMIGROM’s objectives, research work will focus on minority ethnic (henceforth: ME) urban youth born with citizenship equal to that of the majority but bearing certain socially interpreted markers of difference. Samples for empirical investigation will be drawn from the cohort between 14 and 18 years of age. The research project will distinguish five levels of analysis:

  • Cross-country comparative inquiry
  • Macro-level studies (policy relevant country reports on education and ethnic relations, respectively)
  • Community-level fieldwork (surveys, interviews and case-studies)
  • School-level fieldwork (observations; interviews; focus group discussions)
  • Investigations on the personal level (interviews; focus group discussions)

(a) Cross-country comparative inquiry

By applying a cross-country comparative perspective, the aim is to produce a classification of the causes, manifestations and functions of ethnic difference in educational arrangements in the context of the varying welfare regimes in the participating countries. The cross-country comparative analysis will use as its key sources:

  • country studies on education and related policies
  • country studies on ethnic relations and related policies
  • survey data and reports produced in the participating countries
  • data and reports of the school and community studies produced in the participating countries
  • datasets constructed for cross-country comparative  analysis

The cross-country comparative inquiry will result in a set of comparative reports on education, ethnic relations and the range of related policies on ME inclusion. 

(b) Macro-level studies in the participating countries

Two macro-level comprehensive studies will be prepared in each country, one on education, and another one on ethnic relations. Both studies will be designed with three general aims in mind:

  • to furnish cross-country comparisons on education, ethnic relations, and the respective issues in policy making
  • to assist site selection and sampling for the community-level fieldwork
  • to provide macro-level background information for collating and analyzing data driven from the community-level fieldwork

Due to frequent references to the unique features of the Nordic welfare paradigm, macro-level studies will be prepared for the entire Nordic region with special emphasis on Denmark and Sweden.

(c) Community-level fieldwork (survey, interviews and case-studies)

Community-level enquiries will supply both intra- and inter-country comparisons. The selection of the sites will follow from the above reports and analyses, and will be done in two steps. First, in each country, minority ethnic group(s) will be selected in consideration of:

  • unalterable markers that qualify for high probability of being ‘othered’
  • experience of ‘minoritization’ along ethnic lines on the part of the majority
  • facing high risks of poverty and marginalization

In the second step, ethnically diverse urban communities will be selected where the above groups represent a substantial proportion of the residents. Taking into account paramount socio-geographical differences among the participating countries, selection should conclude either in choosing two different sites with similarities in ethnic composition but meaningful dissimilarities in interethnic relations, or in doing fieldwork within one larger urban multiethnic community where at least two different minority ethnic groups with the above criteria are present, but forms of ‘minoritization’ affect them in remarkably different ways.  (The main criteria and their country-specific application will be agreed upon in light of the results of the macro-level comprehensive studies.)

In order to enhance the project’s analytical potential with regard to remarkable deviations in the situation of minority ethnic youth amidst the prevailing national welfare and educational arrangements, community-level enquiries (with the exception of the classroom-based survey) will be accomplished on a Danish and a Swedish site as two importantly different variants of the much-referred ’Nordic model’

The community-level enquiries will consist of:

  • a survey of young people in the final grade of compulsory education;
  • fieldwork in selected schools within the community;
  • focus-group discussions with parents and teachers;
  • community-level case reports on representative groups and organizations from a local diversity of cultures and interests in the community (local political and religious organizations, cultural associations, trade union branches, action groups, parents’ groups, etc.);
  • interviews with representative groups and organizations from a local diversity of cultures and interests in the community (local political and religious organizations, cultural associations, trade union branches, action groups, parents’ groups, etc.).
  • case reports on main ethnic minority groups within the observed community.

As to the indicated surveys, a representative sample reflecting the ethnic composition and certain qualitative characteristics of the local schools will be drawn from each site. The survey will be done in the form of self-reporting anonymous questionnaires that will be filled by all students in selected school classes. Data-processing will serve to draw the country-specific Survey Reports, and also to facilitate the cross-country comparative analysis that will conclude in one of the key products of EDUMIGROM, namely the Comparative Survey Study Report.

(d) Fieldwork in schools

The research will trace everyday practices and experiences of ethnicized ‘othering’ in the process of education.

The field visits in the selected schools will apply a combination of methods as follows:

  • processing relevant documents (mission statement, annual reports, statistics, etc.) of the school;
  • standardized observations in classrooms and communal spaces in schools;
  • group-discussions with a sub-sample of students in school-leaving age, their parents and teachers (sub-sampling will be based on primary survey data, and will reflect the composition of the school by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic characteristics);
  • in-depth personal interviews with minority ethnic students of school-leaving age, their parents and teachers.

In case of Sweden, general statistics, basic results of relevant earlier local empirical investigations, and available ethnographic information on the educational situation of minority ethnic youth will assist the selection.

The respective components of the field observations will be used to:

  • assess the impact of interactional patterns, as well as imprints of the prevailing socio-economic, cultural, and gender differences on the identity development of minority ethnic youth
  • gain insights into the implications of ‘everyday ethnicity’ through interactional practices of ‘othering’
  • make numeric estimations and assess the occurrence of the various typical forms of personal reactions/responses among the affected minority ethnic youth.

(e) Investigations on the personal level

Besides revealing important aspects of the working of the institutional environment, narrative in-depth interviews with students will be explored as primary sources to gain a picture on the complexity and iterative nature of identity formation in ethnically divided schools and localities.  Furthermore, in-depth interviews with teachers and parents will be conducted to shed light on the overt and/or covert ethnic divisions and conflicts in the school community. Focus-group discussions with parents and the involved school personnel, further personal interviews with local policy-makers, educational officials, and also with leaders of local NGOs and other civil initiatives will help to reveal the deeper rationale of the prevailing local educational practices and the forging (or failing) of policies of inclusion.

A set of school case-studies and complex community case-studies (comprising, complementing and completing the above list of information) will put down the building blocks of the country-level general analyses that are to be presented in the form of Community Study Reports. These reports will offer a range of intra-country comparisons and policy-relevant conclusions, while they will serve as fundamental sources also for yet another core document of the project, i.e.  the Comparative Community Study Report.