How a school setting can generate social capital for young refugees: Qualitative insights from a folk high school in Denmark

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Many of the refugees who have recently arrived in Denmark and other European countries are young people. In order to support refugee youth, it is important to understand how institutions and initiatives in the receiving countries may best facilitate their social inclusion. Drawing on the concept of social capital, this article explores school practices supporting refugees through a qualitative case study of a Danish folk high school—an informal residential college for young people. At the school, participant observation, 10 interviews (with school management, four refugee students and four majority ethnic Danish students) as well as two focus groups (with majority ethnic and refugee students, respectively) were carried out. We discuss the school resources that help create a setting in which students and teachers may work collaboratively to support the integration of young refugees, highlighting four key dimensions: (i) intensive instruction in the local language, (ii) a commitment to nurturing positive inter-ethnic relationships, (iii) a sense of collective responsibility and (iv) an inclusive school ethos. We conclude with a discussion on how lessons from our case study can inform a wider conceptualization of a ‘refugee-competent school’ setting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)718–740
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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