"Så gör vi inte här i Sverige. Vi brukar göra så här" : Retorik och praktik i LO:s invandrarpolitik 1945-1981

by Johansson, Jesper

Abstract (Summary)
The primary purpose of this thesis is to analyse the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, the LO’s, mediated rhetoric, arguments and social and institutional practices in the process of forming the LO’s policy regarding the introduction, incorporation and participation of immigrants in Swedish society in general, the workplace and the trade union movement in the period 1945–1981. The theoretical purpose is to explore how power relations of superiority and subordination based primarily on the categories of class, ethnicity and nation, but also on gender and to some extent generation, have been formed through ideological processes of inclusion and boundary drawing in rhetorical speeches, texts and institutional practices within the framework of an explicit class-based community as the LO constituted.The results demonstrate that the LO had an ambivalent attitude towards labour immigration in an expanding post-war Swedish economy. On the one hand the trade unions accepted that industrial growth and general welfare reforms were dependent on the labour supply. On the other hand, the LO feared that uncontrolled labour immigration would be a disadvantage for indigenous workers, since wages could be kept low and obsolete industrial sectors could be maintained and the “solidarity wage policy” could be endangered because of the influx of migrant labour. Organising the immigrants was a central part of the union movement’s strategy, and the LO also insisted from the very beginning on equal wages and employment conditions between indigenous and immigrant workers to avoid wage pressures. During the second half of the 1960s and the 1970s, the LO repeatedly argued that the scale of immigration should be weighted against factors such as access to work, housing, social services, education and language teahcing.One major argument in the thesis is that within the LO, immigration policy measures were perceived to be a functional “adaptation” of immigrants to the already defined institutions, norms and national culture of the Swedish majority society. Accordingly, the immigrants were expected to adapt themselves to the “normal” Swedish and social democratic way of doing things in a rational and organised manner. During the 1970s, Swedish language training and company introduction with union attendance, translated information bulletins about the Swedish labour market and society, union courses and study circles could be seen as central means in a process of socialisation and “normalisation”. These policy measures were dimensions of a social democratic ideological identity project within the trade union movement, which was constructed as a symbol of the given national order and “the Swedish way of doing things”. The results also demonstrate how class, ethnicity, nation and gender have worked as structuring principles of power and status within the LO.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Växjö universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; History and philosophy subjects; History subjects; History; the LO; immigration; ethnicity; nation; gender; labour immigration; “adaptation”; Swedish.; immigration policy; 1945–1981; rhetoric; practices; class; Historia; History


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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