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The Problem of Representing Diversity : Could the Cross-Cultural Kid -Experience Provide Some Insights?

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Title: The Problem of Representing Diversity : Could the Cross-Cultural Kid -Experience Provide Some Insights?
Author(s): Haarala, Jaakko-Juhani
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Discipline: Political Science, Politics
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2017
Abstract:
This thesis investigates the skills acquired through a Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) -experience and contemplates if they can be useful in politics as well as in the representation and understanding of diversity. The main purposes of the thesis are: (1) to concur that the interviewees are indeed CCKs, (2) to describe what kind of CCK-related skills they may or may not have acquired, and (3) to discuss how and to what purposes these skills have been used in politics and in the representation of diversity. In an ever-globalizing world, moving and travelling from one country to another has become the norm. Consequently, most societies, including Finland, have become ever more diverse. In the past two decades, Finland’s immigrant population increased fourfold, currently totalling over five per cent of the population. Globalization has also contributed to an increase in children that have been raised in-between cultures, namely CCKs, in Finland and elsewhere. As the size of the migrant population grows and the heated public debate revolving around immigration-related topic intensifies, it becomes crucial to properly represent the increasing diversity in political arenas, too. Previous research on CCKs suggests that CCKs have gained unique skills through their experience of having been raised in-between worlds, such as expanded worldviews, adaptability, observational and social skills to name a few. The literature on descriptive representation by Anne Phillips (et al.), the concept of shared experience by Jane Mansbridge and the idea of a preferable descriptive representative introduced by Suzanne Dovi form the theoretical framework of the thesis. The research is based on interviews of six candidates in the 2015 parliamentary elections of Finland, conducted 3 months prior to the elections. The candidates belong to different parties, ethnicities, and social backgrounds. The interviews are coded and analysed by using the QCA (Qualitative Content Analysis) method, as presented by Margrit Schreier. The results of this thesis support that the interviewees are CCKs and that they qualify as descriptive representatives of their electorate, claiming they shared a similar experience. The interviewees describe many abilities that are useful in politics and in the representation of diversity – particularly concerning the ability to relate to others, adapting to changing situations like a “chameleon” and a sensitivity to the society’s silent voices. In addition to these skills, the interviewees had also benefited from amplified media attention at a time when their distinctive phenotypes are subject to an increasingly heated and divisive political debate. The thesis provides some unique research into the CCK -experience, bringing the concept into the realm of Political Science for the first time. Combining theories of descriptive representation and the CCK -experience provides crucial insight into political representation of diversity.
Keyword(s): CCKs TCKs QCA Cross-Cultural Kids Representation Descriptive Representation Preferable Descriptive Representatives The 2015 Parliamentary Elections of Finland edustuksellinen demokratia moninaisuus monikulttuurisuus


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