Inclusion and participation in a multicultural gospel choir


  • Hildegunn Marie T Schuff



Immigrants and particularly refugees are vulnerable in relation to health and social exclusion. This article asks how inclusion in a multicultural gospel choir in a Norwegian town can contribute to the well-being of immigrants. A case study including participatory observation and interviews with choir members forms the empirical basis for the analysis. The multicultural gospel choir gathers singers with very diverse backgrounds, who sing together in several languages in a welcoming social environment, where entry to participation is made easy both practically and socially. The narrative analysis focuses on four choir participants’ renditions of what the choir has meant to them. Within the broad framework of Antonovsky’s salutogenic theory, the relevance of health-promoting factors such as integration, social support, and inclusion is considered. In the analysis, social support and participation are identified as particularly important positive factors. A common theme in all four narratives is the importance of experiencing a sense of cultural participation in the choir. In other words, the choir members value the opportunity to contribute and be acknowledged as valuable participants in cultural interaction. The analysis presented here might serve as a reminder to see immigrants not only as representatives of their backgrounds, but as participants in the culture(s) continually being created here and now. The choir can function as an entry point to Norwegian society, and as a “family” in a vulnerable situation, but it is “not quite Norway.” In times of transition and uncertainty, however, the choir can provide quite an important arena for cultural participation, which in turn can strengthen participants in ways that may transfer to other arenas as well. This has policy and practical implications for preventive interventions, and points to a significant health potential in choirs and other community work where immigrants are included as equal contributors.



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How to Cite

Schuff, H. M. T. (2014). Inclusion and participation in a multicultural gospel choir. FLEKS - Scandinavian Journal of Intercultural Theory and Practice, 1(2).



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