Topic: Opportunities in rural regions, and reasons for having to leave The residence choices of young people with a refugee background as a subject of official discourse
Keywords: young people, asylum seekers, refugees, rural, periphery, choice of residence
The paper discusses the residence choices of young asylum seekers and refugees who have settled in the Finnish countryside. By looking at internal migration from the point of view of local actors, it shifts the focus from residence choices as individual deliberation to politics and discourse that categorize and regulate the movement of these young people within Finland. The study draws on interviews with the heads of reception centres, local authorities and other actors who are involved in the settlement and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in their respective rural municipalities. The paper reveals the importance of the discursive positioning of young asylum seekers. When asylum seekers are positioned as “young people”, they are encouraged to fulfil their dreams, which usually means moving to the city. However, when they are positioned as “refugees”, they are regarded as people who benefit from the security, peace and quiet of the countryside. In addition, the settlement of “refugees” in rural regions is associated with economic risks, meaning that the welcome that local actors extend towards young refugees is conditional. The discursive positioning is strongly linked to structural inequalities, especially in relation to education and work opportunities being increasingly concentrated in urban centres, and duly placing young rural inhabitants at a disadvantage. The paper is based on the article published in the journal Nuorisotutkimus [Youth Research].