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Ukrainian refugees and the Swedish sports movement: new opportunities and challenges
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2934-9313
2023 (English)In: European Sport Management Quarterly, ISSN 1618-4742, E-ISSN 1746-031XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Research Question: The war in Ukraine has forced approximately eight million people into neighboring European countries. As part of sports clubs’ societal commitment, many have received Ukrainian refugees. However, compared to previous so-called ‘refugee waves’, forced migration from Ukraine is different in terms of demographics, culture, and (sports) traditions. This paper aimed to assess these ‘new’ nuances and their implications for the European sports movement. Research Methods: Data were gathered through 17 semi-structured interviews with Swedish sports club representatives, analyzed with a critical realist-inspired thematic analysis, and interpreted with Bronfenbrenner’s process-person-context-time framework. Results and Findings: The representatives expressed that Ukrainian refugees are more in-tune with organized sports compared to other refugee populations; however, there are also culturally discrepant ideas about sports. Specifically, there seems to be an influx of skilled (youth) refugees, who approach sports in ways incompatible with Swedish conventions about youth sports. While the sporting capital often enables easier inclusion, it also presents challenges in extreme cases. Implications: The findings show that the European sports movement must be attentive to new challenges and opportunities associated with the current humanitarian crisis. Sports representatives need to balance culturally sensitive approaches with ethical considerations regarding youth sports. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2023.
Keywords [en]
integration, migrants, refugees, sports clubs, Ukraine
National Category
Social Work Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-51213DOI: 10.1080/16184742.2023.2183230ISI: 000942862300001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85149387725OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-51213DiVA, id: diva2:1744621
Available from: 2023-03-20 Created: 2023-03-20 Last updated: 2023-06-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A Nordic sport social work in the context of refugee reception
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Nordic sport social work in the context of refugee reception
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Ett nordiskt idrottsligt socialt arbete i kontexten av flyktingmottagande
Abstract [sv]

Idrotten antas gynna positiva utfall, såsom god hälsa, utökat socialt nätverk med mera, och har alltmer kommit att ta plats som en aktör som adresserar sociala frågor. Den här avhandlingen, som består av sex publicerade artiklar, undersöker de förutsättningar som krävs för att svenska idrottsföreningar ska kunna inkludera underrepresenterade grupper, såsom människor med migrantbakgrund. Detta görs delvis i kontexten av konflikten i Ukraina, där ungefär 50.000 ukrainska människor nu befinner sig i Sverige. I sin helhet visar studierna på att idrottsföreningar, ofta i socioekonomiskt utsatta områden, har ett stort jobb framför sig. Det krävs tid, systematik och olika typer av kapital för att idrottsföreningarna ska kunna jobba hållbart med inkluderingsfrågor. Idrottsföreningarna behöver ofta någon, eller flera, med personligt driv, stark lokal förankring, och en förmåga att knyta idrottsföreningen till andra aktörer i samhället. I kontexten av detta argumenteras det för att idrottsföreningar och idrottens samhällsnytta diskuteras mer explicit i samband med som i socialt arbete kallas ’samhällsarbete’, för att tydligare karva ut och konceptualisera idrottens roll inom socialt arbetes forskning. I den senare delen av avhandlingen undersöks inkluderandet av ukrainska migranter, och hur detta har upplevts av idrottsföreningarna. Detta görs både ur ett pragmatiskt och ett kritiskt perspektiv i avhandlingens två avslutande studier. Nästintill alla idrottsföreningar är övervägande positivt inställda till ukrainska migranter och hur dessa har välkomnats in i föreningen men i ett fåtal fall finns det viss friktion kring träningstraditioner mellan ukrainska barns föräldrar och svenska tränare. I den avslutande studien visas det även på hur ukrainska migranter pratas om som mer ’förtjänta’ av en god inkludering jämfört med andra migrantgrupper. Detta grundas i idéer om ukrainare som mer kulturellt lika svenskar, att dom inte utgör ett hot såsom andra grupper av flyktingar upplevs göra, och att ukrainare är mer villiga att bidra till svenska samhället än andra grupper. Sammantaget så kartlägger avhandlingen en rad viktiga faktorer att tänka på när idrottsföreningar jobbar mot underrepresenterade grupper, men visar även på att idrottsföreningar stundtals särbehandlar vissa grupper – detta strider då mot den vedertagna idén om att idrott är till för alla, som vägleder svensk idrottsrörelse.

Abstract [en]

Sports facilitate a range of positive outcomes, such as health, social networks and more, and have increasingly been considered a movement that is addressing social issues. This dissertation, consisting of six published articles, examines the necessary conditions for including underrepresented populations in Swedish sports clubs, such as people with migrant backgrounds. This is done, partially, in the context of the current conflict in Ukraine, where approximately 50.000 Ukrainians reside in Sweden. In summary, the studies show that sports clubs, often in underserved areas, have much work ahead of them. Time, consistency, and different types of capital are needed in order for the sports clubs to work in a sustainable fashion with social inclusion. Sports clubs need one, or more, individuals with personal drive, local anchoring, and with the ability to initiate collaborations with other important actors. Within this context, I argue that sports clubs should be more explicitly discussed in conjunction with what is known as ‘community work’ to more clearly carve out and conceptualize the role of sports within social work research. In the dissertation’s latter part, I explore the inclusion of Ukrainian migrants, and how this has been experienced by the sports clubs. This is done with both a practical, and critical, perspective in the dissertation’s two final studies. Almost all sports clubs are overwhelmingly positive towards Ukrainian migrants and how these have been welcomed into the sports clubs, but in a few instances, there have been frictions relating to ideas of training between Ukrainian youths’ parents and Swedish coaches. In the final study, I show how Ukrainian migrants often are talked about as more ‘deserving’ of being included compared to other migrant groups. This is grounded in ideas on Ukrainians as being more culturally similar to Swedes, that they do not pose the same security threat as other migrant groups are believed to do, and that Ukrainians are more willing to contribute to Swedish society compared to other groups. In summary, the dissertation maps out a range of critical factors to consider for sports clubs when they work with underrepresented populations, but also shows that sports clubs occasionally treat different groups differently – this conflicts with the idea that sports should be, equally, available to everyone; a guiding principle of the Swedish sports movement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2023. p. 268
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 220
Keywords
Ukraine, migration, sports, social work, Ukraina, migration, idrott, socialt arbete
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-51799 (URN)978-91-89504-45-5 (ISBN)978-91-89504-46-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-09-22, MA648, Alfred Nobels Alle 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2023-08-16 Created: 2023-06-22 Last updated: 2023-08-18Bibliographically approved

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Blomqvist Mickelsson, Tony

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