Interpretative Repertoires of Multiculturalism – Supporting and Challenging Hierarchical Intergroup Relations


  • Emma Nortio
  • Sirkku Varjonen
  • Tuuli Anna Mähönen
  • Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti


Social psychological research on immigrant integration has predominantly examined multiculturalism from the perspective of majority members, and has seen it to be in conflict with that of minority members. In this discursive psychological study, we analyzed how members of the Finnish majority and different immigrant groups discussed managing ethnic and cultural diversity. As a result, four different interpretative repertoires of multiculturalism were identified. The first two repertoires normalize the hierarchical relations between immgrants and hosts. The other two repertoires questioned and criticized multiculturalism as an official policy or as everyday practices that highlight the importance of ethnic and cultural group memberships and that enable the discriminatory and essentializing treatment of immigrants. Our analysis showed that both minority and majority members can make sense of and orient towards multiculturalism in many different ways and that, contrary to the common assumption based on previous research, the viewpoints presented are not always clearly divided between the groups. Finally, implications of the results for multiculturalism as an ideology and as practices are discussed.