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The Point of View of Stigmatised Young Girls: Managing Class, “Race” and Place in Polarising Copenhagen

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For the past thirty years, Danish media, politicians and (to some extent) social scientists have deployed the term “ghetto” as a core symbol of urban decay and as a threat to national coherence and security. With furious rhetoric and stern emotions, various governments have launched political programmes to combat so-called “parallel societies” and “ghettoisation”, and various bureaucracies have forged tools to “tear down the walls”, “give these areas a lift”, “create security” and “integrate” these designated areas into “mainstream society” (Simonsen 2016). Journalists have flocked to extraordinary events of car burnings, portraying images of veiled women and young gang members fleeing from the police (Stender 2018). And scholars have exposed the mechanisms of “ethnic” segregation (Andersen 2002). Taken together, these discourses focus on residential areas within the non-profit housing sector, merging imaginaries of crime, radicalisation, terrorism, youth delinquency, immigrant gangs and welfare beneficiaries with unemployment and immigration (Hansen 2021). In other words, “the ghetto” has become a territorial stigma fusing poverty and dishonour, a term which is attached to a specific place (Wacquant 2007). However, whereas public debate has painted dramatic pictures from the outside, voices from inside the residential neighbourhoods designated as ghettos have been harder to hear (Johansen & Jensen 2017).

TidsskriftSocial Work and Society
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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