Sport policy, citizenship and the social integration of immigrants in Denmark

2019-06-26T07:52:58Z (GMT) by Ioannis Chatzopoulos
Since 2010 Denmark has seen a significant increase in immigration and the topic has become a significant political issue linked to the rise of far-right political parties that advocate not only a more restrictive immigration policy but also the assimilation strategy for those migrants currently resident in the country. The aim of this thesis is to analyze the development of sport policies in two Danish cities in relation to migration since 2010. The research analyses changes in national level policy and in the policies of Copenhagen and Aarhus, in which three sports projects are examined to explore the impact on policy of the interaction between national, municipal and sports club policy actors. Data were collected through a combination of semi-structured interviews with municipal civil servants, administrative and coaching staff of sports clubs and a review of material derived from official municipal and sports club documents and media reports. The data were subject to thematic content analysis. The theoretical foundation for the data collection and analysis was provided by the advocacy coalition framework and the multiple streams framework. Moreover, macro-level theories with neo-corporatism and neo-pluralism were particularly significant. Neo-corporatism was significant because of its connection with associationalism which remains strong at the local level, whereas neo-pluralism was dominant at the national level.
The main findings of the research were: a) sport was identified in both cities as an important vehicle for the inclusion of recent migrants into the communal associationalist life and their introduction to the Danish societal values and norms; b) municipalities were granted by central government considerable autonomy in interpreting their responsibilities and collaborated closely with sports clubs in the design and delivery of sports programmes related to immigrants; c) two competing advocacy coalitions were identified, one favouring inclusion through assimilation and the other integration through multiculturalism; d) the assimilationist coalition was composed of by centre-right and far-right political parties and where they controlled the municipal sport department it was the sports clubs that pursued an integration/ multicultural policy; e) in both cities the most conflicting issue was gender segregated swimming; and f) in both cities Get2Sport Project was a significant link between the local sports clubs and the Danish Sport Confederation (DIF).