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  • Doing Whiteness and Masculinities at School: Finnish 12- to 15-Year-Olds’ Narratives on Multiethnicity

    Marja Peltola, Ann Phoenix

    Chapter from the book: Hoegaerts, J et al. 2022. Finnishness, Whiteness and Coloniality.


    As Finland becomes increasingly multiethnic, there is a growing need to understand how young, white Finnish people position themselves and others in relation to norms of Finnishness and whiteness, and in relation to racism and (in)equalities. In popular narratives, assumptions of increasing “tolerance” and decreasing racism and inequalities are sometimes particularly attributed to young people, a perspective that enables most of the population to continue to evade issues of racism and perpetuate “white innocence” (Wekker 2016) and the color blindness (Bonilla-Silva 2003) of imagined Finnishness. In this chapter, we draw on a study of masculinities in 12- to 15-year-olds in Helsinki to examine these issues by focusing on the white Finnish participants’ narratives on multiethnicity. Our theoretical starting point is to understand the intersections of Finnishness, whiteness, and masculinities. We argue that while the interviewees widely embraced egalitarianism and multicultural ideologies in the interviews, the norm of whiteness was unquestioned and the contradictions characteristic of white innocence largely prevailed. The combination of white Finnishness, male gender and egalitarian ideas allowed the white Finnish boys to occupy an unquestioned position of “ordinary boys.” They were able to construct themselves as tolerant and to see multiethnicity and racism as phenomena that were largely irrelevant to them, while benefiting from a privileged white position.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Peltola M. & Phoenix A. 2022. Doing Whiteness and Masculinities at School: Finnish 12- to 15-Year-Olds’ Narratives on Multiethnicity. In: Hoegaerts, J et al (eds.), Finnishness, Whiteness and Coloniality. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-17-5

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Aug. 22, 2022


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