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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Seeing the wood and the trees. Assessing Swedish Nature-Based Integration utilising the theory of socio-cultural viability

Singleton, Benedict


Migration is a prominent topic in many European societies, spawning numerous initiatives aiming to help 'integrate' newcomers. One subsection of these initiatives in Nordic countries is 'Nature-Based Integration' (NBI). Varied in scope, NBI involve activities where newcomers engage in activities in local natural environments. This article analyses NBI in Orebro County, central Sweden. It utilises the Mary Douglas derived theory of socio-cultural viability (cultural theory) in order to examine the group dynamics and related narratives found within observed activities. Utilising cultural theory's fourfold typology of social solidarities, the NBI observed were characterised as a combination of egalitarianism and hierarchy, with the other two, individualism and fatalism, considerably less prominent. This has consequences for the relevance of NBI to newcomers' lives - the initiatives' 'success' as far as participants are concerned will relate to whether NBI compliment or conflict with institutional narratives in the other, much larger, parts of their lives. The collected data suggest that narratives of individualism are arguably not as prominent in NBI as in the lives of newcomers and Swedes using nature. This article thus represents a first step in understanding NBI's impact in the complex situations newcomers find themselves.


integration; Sweden; Mary Douglas; cultural theory; migration

Published in

Fennia : International Journal of Geography
2020, volume: 198, number: 1-2, pages: 57-73

Authors' information

University of Gothenburg
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Anthropology

Publication Identifiers


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