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The Diversity Index 2016 – Changes in opinion

Press Release   •   Nov 04, 2016 09:00 GMT

The survey shows that sixty-four percent of the population are positive towards diversity which is a reduction of about ten percent compared with 2014. The changed views are mostly found amongst women and those in middle age. This is what the annual Diversity Index from the University of Gävle reveals.

A noticeable change of opinion

Today sixty four percent of the population are positive towards diversity, but the quota has decreased by ten percent. A more negative attitude to diversity is noticeable amongst women and middle-aged people and it is the largest shift since the surveys started in 2005.

Social rights

A majority think that newcomers should have the same social rights as people born in Sweden – but the positive attitudes have decreased from seventy- seven percent in 2014 to fifty-five percent in this year’s survey.

Almost half of the respondents want to create opportunities for people to maintain their cultural traditions, and even here a clear decrease can be discerned compared with 2014.

Religion

The attitudes amongst women and academics, that is groups that have been the most positive in earlier surveys, show a negative trend.

Almost half of them maintain that not all religions have the same values, most particularly Islam.

The neighbour’s background

Every third person prefers to have neighbours that have been born in Sweden. Attitudes are significantly more negative if the neighbour comes from Africa or the Middle East.

The Swedish culture

The majority still think that ethnical diversity enriches the Swedish culture, but attitudes have changed in a negative way.

Half of those asked perceive there to be great differences between the native culture and African and Middle Eastern cultures. People from these countries are considered to have difficulties assimilating.

Experiences from the collegiate are still positive

Seventy percent of the population think that having colleagues with foreign backgrounds either at school or at work is a positive experience and this remains stable. The higher the level of education one has the better the experience.

But the negative attitudes have increased somewhat since 2014, among other things amongst women.

How would you like to explain this change in attitudes Fereshteh Ahmadi, Professor of Sociology and responsible for the Diversity Index?

”There are two conceivable factors that we believe can explain this change in attitudes and they are related to the political and social situation in Sweden and in Europe.

We believe that as far as immigration in general, and the newcomers in particular, are concerned, that the altered political climate can have influenced the view on diversity. We see this development in many areas of the Western world with extreme right- wing political and even racist tendencies coming to the fore.

As far as the social aspect is concerned we think that media images, of dangerous men from certain regions that come here to sexually assault others can have affected attitudes negatively, especially amongst women.

Finally I would like to point out that young people are underrepresented in the survey. If that generation, (who to a greater extent have, since they were toddlers, lived side by side with/??? people with foreign backgrounds, had been larger in the survey then it might have influenced the result.

I would also like to emphasise that the survey shows that the experiences of those who have worked or studied together with people born overseas are generally positive.

The attitudes have become more negative, but not the actual day-to-day experiences.”

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The University of Gävle wishes with this annual Diversity Index to contribute to the debate about diversity in Swedish society. The awareness of the attitudes of the Swedish people is important because it can have an enormous influence on the future societal climate.

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For further information, please contact the responsible researcher:
Fereshteh Ahmadi, Professor of Sociology, University of Gävle, 0090-543 50 82 207, 070-717 19 07
Irving Palm, Docent of Sociology, Uppsala universitet, 070-328 12 11
Nader Ahmadi, Professor of Sociologi, Högskolan i Gävle, 070-428 39 65

Text: Douglas Öhrbom

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