Child’s Presence Shapes Immigrant Women’s Experiences of Everyday Intergroup Contact


  • Paula Paajanen
  • Tuija Seppälä
  • Clifford Stevenson
  • Eerika Finell


Research on intergroup contact has considered how the occurrence and experience of contact is affected by ingroup members. Qualitative studies of contact in real-life settings have additionally highlighted how multiple actors can affect the manifestation of contact. This article shows how the presence of one’s child can shape immigrant mothers’ contact experiences in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. Ten immigrant mothers living in Helsinki, Finland, were interviewed twice over a six-month period about their intergroup interactions in their locale. Using a thematic analysis, we identified three themes depicting immigrant mothers’ experiences of intergroup contacts in their child’s presence: i) feeling visible to others, ii) seeking harmonious contact, and iii) anticipating problems. The results illustrate how a child affords unique opportunities for an immigrant mother to engage in interethnic contact, but also brings distinctive threats. This suggests the need to further consider how different types of intragroup dynamics can shape intergroup contacts.