Learning Danish(ness): Constructing Cultural Difference in Danish Language Classes in Denmark

Nordicum-Mediterraneum. 2014;9(1):A4


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Nordicum-Mediterraneum

ISSN: 1670-6242 (Online)

Publisher: University of Akureyri

LCC Subject Category: Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Geography (General)

Country of publisher: Iceland

Language of fulltext: Italian, Icelandic, French, English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Sarah Casey


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The “problem of immigrant integration” is a recurrent topic in public discourse in Denmark. One attempt to manage this has been the establishment of mandatory Danish language classes, a sizeable component of a comparably extensive integration program. While language instruction is ostensibly aimed at equipping immigrants with language skills, culture, in an essentialized form, is foregrounded during instruction, where differences between Danes and foreigners are highlighted. With culture mapping neatly onto place, diversity within “a culture” is downplayed, creating homogenizing discourses regarding both Danes and immigrants, with immigrants portrayed as ill-suited for life in Denmark. This focus on culture is a prominent component of state-wide efforts to manage a group of individuals conceptualized as problematic- non-EU immigrants. Interventions aimed at altering the conduct of immigrants serve to alleviate the threat originating in what is imagined to be a risky group of individuals, thereby securing the well-being of the greater population.