Competences for active communication and participation in diverse societies: Views of young people in Iceland

Hanna Ragnarsdóttir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


What does it take to be an active member of contemporary diverse societies? What are important competences for communicating and participating in such societies and how are they expressed by young people? In this chapter I address these and other related questions and discuss the usefulness of different approaches in addressing the liquidity and complexity of social relations in contemporary diverse societies. The chapter draws on research conducted in 2011-2014 with students from various ethnic backgrounds in upper secondary schools and universities in Iceland. A survey, focus-group interviews and semi-structured interviews were used for data collection. The young people were asked to reflect on the increasing diversity in Icelandic society, their communication and their participation in this society. The aim of the chapter is to explore which factors these young people see as being important for active communication and participation in a diverse society. Questions considered in the chapter also include whether these young people relate obstacles for communication to their different origins, cultures, values, religions or other factors, or whether they consider these as irrelevant factors. The theoretical framework of the chapter is in writings on critical multiculturalism, cosmopolitan citizenship, cosmopolitanism and liquidity in modern societies. The findings indicate that the young people see diversity as a normal or intrinsic part of their society and their daily life and do not describe different origins, cultures, values or religions as obstacles for communication. These views and attitudes indicate or connote that the young people share certain competences for communication in a diverse society, which may perhaps be defined as intercultural. Some of them describe themselves as cosmopolitan and discuss various competences which they see as important for participation and communication. Young people’s views on communication in a contemporary diverse society can provide indications on what competences are important for communication and participation in diverse societies more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntercultural Competence in Education
Subtitle of host publicationAlternative Approaches for Different Times
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781137587336
ISBN (Print)9781137587329
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Editor(s) and The Author(s) 2016.


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