Agency and Adaptation: Strategies of Immigrants’ Descendants on the Swedish Labor Market


This article explores how descendants of immigrants in Sweden understand labor market conditions, and how such understandings influence their occupational strategies. We interviewed 21 Sweden-born individuals with non-Western immigrant parents, and identified three strategies based on our analysis of the data: ‘choosing’ the right job, adapting the habitus, and using cultural capital in flexible ways. The first strategy covers interviewees working in jobs with labor shortages and/or high demand for employees with immigrant background. The second covers interviewees who could learn through failing, with substantial resilience and persistence. The third deals with interviewees who searched for jobs in branches that valued their particular skill set, entailing the importance of being flexible on the labor market

Author Biographies

Pinar Aslan, University of Gävle

Lecturer in social work, Department of Social Work and Criminology

Nader Ahmadi, Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise

Professor in social work, Director General

Eva Wikström, Umeå University

PhD in social work, Senior lecturer, Department of Social work

Stefan Sjöberg, University of Gävle

Associate Professor in social work, Senior lecturer, Department of Social Work and Criminology


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How to Cite
Aslan, P., Ahmadi, N., Wikström, E., & Sjöberg, S. (2020). Agency and Adaptation: Strategies of Immigrants’ Descendants on the Swedish Labor Market. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 10(3).