Social integration of immigrant adolescents and young adults in Swiss sports clubs

Adler Zwahlen, Jenny; Schlesinger, Torsten; Albrecht, Julia; Nagel, Siegfried (2016). Social integration of immigrant adolescents and young adults in Swiss sports clubs. In: Evans, Adam B.; Nielsen, Glen; Thing, Lone Friis; Ottesen, Laila (eds.) Sport in the City – Mobility, Urbanity and Social Change. 13th European Association for Sociology of Sport Conference. Book of Abstracts (p. 61). Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen

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There are a high proportion of young immigrants in Switzerland as a consequence of past and present migratory movements in Europe. Switzerland is subsequently faced with the task of integrating immigrants into society. Sports clubs foster social integration in a more effective way than other voluntary organizations, and are considered important institutions in this context (Østerlund & Seippel, 2013). However, young immigrants are under represented in sports clubs in comparison with their Swiss counterparts (Lamprecht et al., 2014). The question then arises: What is the extent of social integration by young immigrants participating in sports clubs and what are the club structures that effectively work towards integration? Our study focuses on relevant aspects of social integration in sports clubs at an individual and organizational level. Based on a multi-level research design that includes Esser’s (2004) concepts of social action and integration, data was collected via written questionnaire in 20 sports clubs. 346 members (♀ 27 %; aged 16-30, M = 20.3, SD = 3.9) and chair (wo)men were surveyed. Findings reveal a similar quality of integration among immigrant and non-immigrant members in terms of identity, participation in general meetings and existing knowledge within the club; but members differ in their depth of friendships. The clubs - with a high respectively low immigrant member share - have similar assimilative or pluralistic attitudes (aside from the expectation of speaking German) and goals such as support of integration, openness for all. Esser, H. (2004). Does the “New” Immigration Require a “New” Theory of Intergenerational Integration? International Migration Report (38) 3, 1126-1159. Lamprecht, M., Fischer, A., & Stamm, H.P. (2014). Sport Schweiz 2014. Magglingen: BASPO. Østerlund, K. & Seippel, Ø. (2013). Does membership in civil society organizations foster social integration? The case of Danish voluntary sport organizations. Journal of Civil Society (9) 4, 391-413.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Sociology and Management

UniBE Contributor:

Adler Zwahlen, Jenny; Schlesinger, Torsten; Albrecht, Julia and Nagel, Siegfried


700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




University of Copenhagen




Jenny Adler Zwahlen

Date Deposited:

19 Aug 2016 13:57

Last Modified:

10 Sep 2017 17:04

Uncontrolled Keywords:

integration; voluntary sport organizations; young immigrants; multi-level design; Switzerland




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