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The Myth of Failed Integration: The Case of Eastern Oslo



In this article we examine the dominant assumptions that immigrant youth living in the working-class suburban areas in Oslo, Norway are marginalized and angry. We argue that there is no proof that immigrants living in the Oslo suburbs are alienated from society. Nor do we see any indications of some form of mobilization among this group. This dominant assumption is linked to a larger misperception about “ghettos” in Oslo. The idea, that there are “immigrant ghettos” in Oslo, has similarities with, and draws on public debates about “immigrants” in other European cities and a broader international scholarly discourse. In this paper we show that teenagers and young adults in the most materially deprived areas in Oslo are not socially isolated, but actively participate in crucial mainstream institutions and arenas. We show that these youths have ideals, values, and ambitions that closely duplicate those of most Norwegian teenagers and young adults. We conclude therefore, that the young people labeled as “immigrants” are not only integral members of Norwegian society, but co-producers of it.