Topic: Lifestyle migrants and intercultural communication in Swedish villages
Keywords: intercultural communication, interviews, lifestyle migration, rural place marketing
The study analyses the experiences and practices of Dutch, German and German-speaking Swiss lifestyle migrants in rural locations in northern Sweden. The data presented here draws on interviews with Dutch, German and Swiss migrants in the Swedish counties of Örebro, Värmland, Västerbotten and Norrbottten. We analysed the data using intercultural communication (IC) theories. In particular, the study draws on the work of Geert Hofstede, considering mainly the differences in Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance indexes the author finds for the four countries. Communication and interaction styles are explored using Lewis’s model, while overall adaptation to living in northern Swedish rural society is analysed using Berry’s acculturation model. The study demonstrates that while Swedish culture may not be that different from Dutch, German and German-speaking Swiss culture on a global scale, the existing differences are relevant and impact expectations as well as the overall lifestyle migration experience. The analysis concludes with reflections on improving officials’ understanding of these complex processes when working in rural place marketing. This study further contributes with improved intercultural insights into current lifestyle migrants’ experiences in receiving communities in Nordic sparsely populated areas.