The Construction of ‘socially marginalised Greenlanders’ as a target group in Danish welfare policy and practice




Greenlanders, Social work, Welfare policy, Categorization, Postcolonialism, Social Marginalization, Stereotypes


This paper examines the emergence of ‘socially marginalized Greenlanders’ as a distinct target category in Danish welfare policy and practice. It builds on analysis of policies targeting Greenlandic minorities in Denmark and interviews with welfare professionals in charge of implementing these. The paper shows how Greenlandic minorities are represented as characterized by markers of difference viewed to set them apart from other socially marginalized citizens. These relate to 1) structural differences that impact on the ability to receive and benefit from welfare services, 2) to the perceived cultural origins of the problems that socially marginalised Greenlanders face, and, finally, 3) to the excessive social problems associated in policies and by professionals with an upbringing in Greenland. The paper shows how policies and welfare professionals both reject and continuously resort to the notion of the target group as distinct from other socially marginalized citizens. In continuation of this, the analysis further shows how ambivalences and contradictions are not so much found between the levels of policy and practice, as other studies of policy implementation processes have demonstrated, as they are inherent within all policy and considerations about how to understand the target group they articulate.


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2021-05-19 — Updated on 2021-05-27


How to Cite

Nygaard-Christensen, M., & Bjerge, B. (2021). The Construction of ‘socially marginalised Greenlanders’ as a target group in Danish welfare policy and practice. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 12(1), 132–154. (Original work published May 19, 2021)