Diasporas in Norway 2

Diasporas in Norway Part II

5: Different types and relationships

The way diasporas operate depends on many factors. One important factor then becomes finding out which subcategory a particular group belongs to. We like to talk about five types of diasporas:

  • sacrificial diasporas, which arise as a result of traumatic experiences
  • trade diasporas, which occur when a group chooses to move to another place to trade and eventually also invests in other industries
  • labor diasporas, which are created as a result of various forms of labor migration
  • imperial diasporas, which arise in connection with the implementation of imperial projects. An example is when a great colonial power – an empire – settles its inhabitants in a colony.
  • cultural diasporas, which are bound together by a common culture.

Other important points that should be discussed in order to understand the significance of diasporas in our time, concern the relationship

  • between diasporas and their countries of origin,
  • between diasporas and their new host countries,
  • between the country of origin of the diasporas and their new host country,
  • between different diasporas abroad – unity or division in diaspora groups of the same origin
  • Also: the way supranational and international agreements can affect some countries’ diaspora policies.

All these conditions affect the situation of the individual diasporas, define their political room for maneuver and can influence political decisions in both their old and their new homeland.

6: 1960–2010: Transformation of Norway

To understand the diaspora dimension in Norwegian politics, it is important to look at which groups are important in Norway. This article focuses on the ethnic dimension. It is crucial to bear in mind that Norway has extensive experience with diasporas, but also that conditions in this field have changed dramatically in recent decades. Diaspora is both become more and more numerous .

In the 1970s , Norway was transformed into an immigration country . The number of inhabitants with a different citizenship and with a different ethnic background than the Norwegian increased rapidly. In 1960, only 0.69 per cent (approx. 25,000) of the population in Norway had a citizenship other than Norwegian. In 2009, the number had increased to 6.31 per cent (just over 300,000).

In 1960 , more than 80 per cent of all foreign nationals living in Norway came either from Europe or from North America, and they came from seven countries. By 2009 , the “western share” had fallen to 68 percent. And now nationals from 47 countries and all continents were represented on the official list.

If we only look at ethnic background – or country of birth – the picture was even more complex . In 1960 , only 1.7 per cent (62,450) were born abroad. Every other of these came from another Nordic country, while only 0.1 per cent came from a continent other than Europe (Eastern and Western), North America and Australia and Oceania. In other words, the vast majority were Western.

In 2009 , according to constructmaterials.com, the situation was very different – foreign-born accounted for 10.2 per cent (488,753) of Norway’s population, only approx. one in five of these came from other Nordic countries, and a little more than half from Europe (East and West), North America and Australia and Oceania. Almost 50 per cent of the foreign-born (4.7 per cent of the entire population, ie just over 223,000) came from other continents.

At the beginning of 2011 , there were about 500,000 immigrants and 100,000 Norwegian-born with immigrant parents in Norway. The immigrants had backgrounds from 216 different countries and autonomous regions. According to official Norwegian sources, 12.2 per cent of the Norwegian population as of 1 January 2010 were born abroad.

Two groups in particular have grown rapidly during this period:

  • people with a background from Eastern Europe. In 1960, they accounted for 0.1 per cent of Norway’s population and 2.3 per cent in 2009.
  • people from Asia, Africa, South and Central America and Turkey. This share increased from 0.1 per cent in 1960 to 4.7 per cent in 2009.

The outlined development has left an increasingly strong mark not only on the Norwegian debate on migration and integration, but also on Norwegian foreign policy. This is not least due to the fact that many of those who have come to Norway in recent decades, seek protection from states of war or have come as a result of major political, social and economic upheavals in Norway’s immediate areas.

The marked increase in immigration to Norway has led to much debate about Norway in the present and future – as a multicultural and multiethnic society. In various contexts, the terms “the new Norway” and “the new Norwegian we” are used to illustrate the diversity that characterizes today’s Norway. The concepts illustrate that Norway and the established Norwegian self-understanding have been subject to reassessment.

Diasporas in Norway 2

About the author