NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

Religious diversity and welfare system: how minority families adapt to the Norwegian welfare system and vice versa

Olav Helge Angell

The paper presents some of the key findings in the Norwegian case study of Drammen undertaken as part of the WaVE project. The case study has its main focus on values and the intersections between religion, minorities and gender as they were constructed studying the Turkish Muslim minority’s encounter with the local school system. Generally, the school functions as an important mechanism of social cohesion. One source of tension is the minority groups’ own attempts to improve children’s school performance through home work assistance programmes organised by religious (Muslim) organisations, programmes including religious education, and the way this is interpreted by public authorities and voices in the majority population, including the local newspaper. The programmes have been met with criticism also from people within the minority group itself. These phenomena may be related to tensions between discourses, value orientations and identity projects. The minority group’s project to combine being integrated in Norwegian society and at the same time to maintain a Turkish-Muslim identity seems to result in practices where the fulfilment of one of the goals tends to undermine the fulfilment of the other.