Collectivity in the racist youth milieu - A case study conducted in the threshold of new millennium in Joensuu

Collectivity in the racist youth milieu - A case study conducted in the threshold of new millennium in Joensuu

(In Finnish: Yhteisöllisyys rasistisessa nuorten miljöössä - Tapaustutkimus vuosituhannen vaihteen Joensuussa)

Sini Perho
Youth Research Network 2010

This doctoral dissertation examines young people’s collectivity of which has a background in the racist skinheads’ activity in a mid-sized Finnish city called Joensuu in the 1990s. Young people’s racism still exists in Joensuu and elsewhere. Racism was not only a characteristic of skinhead subculture and this study examines the wider phenomenon of young people’s racism. The study approaches the collectivity of young girls and boys who define themselves intolerant or racist and how racism linked them together in the threshold of new millennium in Joensuu. In addition to the racist youth milieu, the study also concentrates on the still necessary need to tackle the antiracist work with young people.

The study examines young people’s collectivity as a question of belonging. The analysis concentrates both on the collective and individuals’ relations to the prequisities and variations in the racist milieu. The aim is to discuss the collectivity and its contents, in the collectively important defined and important questions of belonging and not belonging. The approach of the study is youth cultural and includes the views of subcultures, tough ordinariness and relations to racist youth milieu that are constructed in gender-specific ways. The study constructs a picture of racist milieu which values being similar with its participants and ordinariness that includes the accepting racism. Being ordinary is a borderline that distinguishes with being different in the milieu. Subcultural capital is valued in the racist youth milieu and it defines the collectivity and different ways of belonging to it which open up for girls and boys.

The data of the study is gathered between the years 1998 and 2001 in two youth clubs in Joensuu.
The data collection is linked with action research project called Exit which aimed to develop the methods of multicultural and antiracist youth work. The intensive field work resulted to data of interviews of 21 young people aged from 13 to 19 years and participatory observation linked withe the action research. The method used is ethnographic interviewing that includes young people’s interviews individually, in pairs and in groups and observation of young people in two youth clubs.

The study consists of five articles that are published earlier and a summary article. The summary sums up the central results of the study and discusses young people’s racism as their societal
opinion and rebellion against the norm of tolerancy. The study contests to discuss on racism and interventions to it. The central questions in antiracist work with the young people are the following: how ordinary is racism, that young people hold ordinary, in our society? What kind of a societal opinion racism is and how could and should adults support the young ones in offering options to that?