Sweden is a multicultural country with significant immigrant population of which 20% are ethnic minority, and 40% are affiliated with non-Lutheran religions (CIA Fact Book 2021).
Sweden adopted immigrant multiculturalism in 1974, promoting opportunities for ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities in the country (Tolley 2011). Today, Sweden is considered one of the few countries with official multicultural policy (Borevi 2013). This policy has been implemented in the national curriculum, support for ethnic organizations, and support for bilingual education (Camauër 2003).
Sweden’s constitution offers protection from discrimination. An anti-discrimination Act was legislated in 2008 focussing on combating all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against ethnic minorities and migrants (Borevi 2013). Sweden’s immigration policies focus on immigrants’ participation and integration. The integration policy was adopted in 1997, with the ensuring of equal rights and opportunities for all individuals and groups from ethnic and cultural background. Sweden has a well-developed intercultural education, cultural representation in media, and funds ethnic community organisations. Its inclusive integration policies that ensure equal rights for ethnic minorities and migrants has resulted in greater participation (Borevi 2013). According to the Solano and Huddleston (2020, p. 228) immigrants and the Swedish public both “enjoy similarly positive attitudes, satisfaction with life, trust in society and sense of belonging, as well as heightened awareness of discrimination.” This positive inclusive culture provides wide opportunity for greater intercultural relations in the society.
Sweden has achieved an overall intercultural dialogue index (ICDI) score of 0.814, the highest in the current articulation of the ICDI results. Many of the components of the intercultural dialogue have scores above 0.80. The high scores in the multiculturalism and anti-discrimination components indicate a conducive, positive legislative environment. Relatively mixed scores in the structural dimension indicate slightly less positive social connectedness and a level of inequality. Similarly, the Swedish intercultural environment tends to mix a high level of acceptance of minorities, greater civil liberties, with an above average degree of social cohesion.
Current Situation and Outlook
Compared to its positive situation around the legislative dimension, Sweden achieves relatively lower scores in some components of the structural dimension. These are particularly related to the level of social contact and level of equality. Sweden’s ICDI score could improve if more attention is given to encourage more intercultural interaction among its diverse population. However, if this situation around structural dimensions persists, there is a possibility that social cohesion will be weakened, and intercultural relations further compromised as conflict and contestation around social vulnerability and cultural marginalisation deepen.