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Searching for coherence from Viet Nam to Sweden

Elisabeth Elmeroth (Senior Lecturer at the School of Education, Psychology and Sports Science, Linnæus University, Kalmar, Sweden and an Associate Professor connected to the University of Lund, Lund, Sweden)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 15 August 2011




This study seeks to capture the lived experiences of five refugees making the transition from Viet Nam to Sweden. It seeks to focus on the problems of integration in Swedish society.


The research took a narrative approach by asking questions about the ways in which refugees make sense of the multiple and sometimes dramatic changes that exile involves. The interpretation procedure was performed in three recurring phases: naïve reading, thematic structural analysis and comprehensive understanding.


In the structural analyses, three sub‐themes were abstracted: in the hands of authorities/forced to leave home; regarded as uneducated and untrained; and lack of balance. These sub‐themes show a situation that could be interpreted by the concept of sense of coherence (SOC). The comprehensive understanding shows that the prerequisites for a stable SOC are unsatisfactory.

Practical implications

The study reported here implies that there is a need for changes in integration policy. In an integrated society, individuals should be met with a policy that aims to empower and takes into consideration the lived experiences and different components that work together to create an SOC.


The contribution from this research is the combination of qualitative data, the theory about SOC, and the description of the edifice of SOC. This combination helps to understand and explain the essence of the respondents' lived experiences.



Elmeroth, E. (2011), "Searching for coherence from Viet Nam to Sweden", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 120-130.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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