Becoming Politically Active: Life Courses and the Formation of Capitals among Young People of Migrant Origin in Finland



This article focuses on the life courses of young people of migrant origin who are active in civic and political fields in Finland. The aim is to analyse, from the micro-level life course perspective, the issues in their lives that have helped them to become active. The article draws on empirical data collected using participatory methods. Four young people of migrant origin participated in the research process and contributed to the data analysis. The theoretical framework consists of Bourdieusian concepts of political habitus and emotional, cultural and social capital. The article shows that participants gained strong emotional capital during their childhood, which laid the groundwork for the formation of their cultural capital–referring here to an ability to navigate between diverse cultures. This, in turn, helped them to network widely across ethnic and linguistic lines, not only in Finland but also transnationally. Different capitals have been significant in the formation of the young people’s political habitus, which is transnational in nature. Although they belong to a minority in Finnish society and face discrimination, they have made good use of the opportunities in Finland to become active in civic and political fields.


Political habitusMigrant youthEmotional capitalCultural capitalSocial capitalLife course
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 3
  • Page/Article: 41–55
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.249
  • Submitted on 11 Apr 2020
  • Accepted on 11 Apr 2020
  • Published on 27 Aug 2020
  • Peer Reviewed