Immigrant women and the family : experiences of encounters in the Finnish service system

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Title: Immigrant women and the family : experiences of encounters in the Finnish service system
Author: Rasmussen, Katri
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Policy
Date: 2009-11-02
Language: en
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: This study examines immigrant women's family life and experiences of social services in Finland. In order for social services and social work to meet the needs of immigrant clients, it is necessary to have an understanding of immigrants' daily life, as well as their needs, expectations and experiences of services. The aim of the study is to determine how immigrant women experience family life in Finland and how these women view their experiences of encounters in social services. The theoretical background of this study is the social scientific study of family migration and service provision for minority groups, contextualised in previous research about immigrant families and their experiences of social services in Finland. The theoretical approach of the study is exploratory, using the perspective of symbolic interactionism. The data of the study consists of seven thematic interviews of immigrant women who are all mothers of small children, but otherwise represent a range of immigration statuses and nationalities. The interviews included open-ended questions about the interviewee's family life and experiences of encounters in social services. The data is analysed with thematic content analysis using an exploratory approach. Immigration contributed to the renegotiation of family dynamics in all of the families in this study. Norms and patterns of behaviour were reassessed as family members confronted changes in social support networks, employment status and cultural expectations. The weakening of social support networks as a result of migration had numerous implications, including loneliness, an increased burden of parenthood, difficulties managing daily life and strain on the marriage relationship. The experiences of the interviewees reveal the complexity of the social service system for immigrant users. Access to services and encounters with service providers were hampered by lack of information, rude treatment, inflexibility, being bounced around among different services, impractical help, vagueness and language barriers. Positive experiences of encounters ensued when service professionals were polite, thorough in explaining, flexible and attentive. Services were good when they met basic needs, were easy to arrange and took specific life situations into account. Benefitting fully from the social service system requires institutional knowledge and when this knowledge is insufficient, the service system fails to meet the needs of immigrant clients.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen ( Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database ( Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta ( Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.

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