Inter-ethnic Relations and Bounding Agency

The Social Space of Study Guidance and Counselling


  • Mira Kalalahti University of Helsinki

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European countries are being urged to reform their educational systems to enhance the integration of migrant populations. In many respects, migrant-origin pupils still lack equal educational opportunities in Finland despite the targeted practices and support. This article concerns the inter-ethnic interaction taking place in study guidance and counselling in the final year of Finnish comprehensive school. It poses a question ‘how do young people construct their educational identities in classroom-level interactions in a multi-ethnic class’? The mixed methods research setting offers two sets of data: selective observation (two events) and life-span interviews (n = 8). The outcomes portray how multi-ethnic school classes open opportunities and supportive bridges for the pupils to contact other ethnicities. Nevertheless, the inter-ethnic interaction was also layered with societal hierarchies which constructed and bounded pupils’ ethnic and educational identities. Finally, the article emphasises the opportunities that the locality offers to the schools.




How to Cite

Kalalahti, M. 2020. Inter-ethnic Relations and Bounding Agency: The Social Space of Study Guidance and Counselling. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 5, 4 (Mar. 2020). DOI:



Ethnic Integration and Interethnic Relations in Schools