Home | Return

Islamic Values influence on Norwegian youth culture?
This article was published in the
Norway Post on Nov 26, 2000

Youth culture is in a continuous state of change. Youth slang clearly shows that youths from different cultures mix with each other. Norwegian slang has already adopted words from many different languages including Urdu and Turkish.

Teenagers influence each other. Norwegian boys have begun to greet each other by shaking hands, a trait which teenagers from a foreign background have brought with them into the youth environment.

Muslims must not drink alcohol, this is both part of their religion and their culture. Can these values also influence the ethnic Norwegian youngster?

Willy Pedersen from the Norwegian Institute for Social Research, (NOVA), believes that Muslims could become new role models. "Earlier they represented foreign values, today they represent new values and ideas," he says.

While working on a comprehensive research project on drug use amongst youngsters, he found that the traditional abstainer has been replaced by Muslims, in particular Muslamic girls. Over half of the 16.4 percent of 16 to 17 year olds who stated they did not drink alcohol, were Muslim. Of the ethnic Norwegian youngsters, only 10 percent state that they do not touch alcohol.

Though the temperance movement struggles to recruit new members, a new group which attributes many features to the traditional abstainer is increasing strongly. Muslim youngsters are becoming a greater influence on Norwegian youngsters.

Those with a foreign background not only represent new cultures and exciting food, it is also possible that they bring with them new values into the Norwegian youth culture. Muslims are generally family oriented, and have values which shape rules for how they live.

Pedersen believes that it is possible for Muslim girls to influence the Norwegian youth's drinking habits.

"When you look at the new methods of greeting one another, new music, clothes and language development which are spreading in the 'white' areas in Oslo, it is possible to suppose that other norms will also follow suit," he predicts.

Bernt Soenvisen is the information leader of the umbrella organisation for the temperance movement, the Norwegian Temperance Alliance (Avholdfolkets Landsråd), with 50 000 members. He says it is a big challenge to be associated with the Muslims.

"It is realistic to work with Muslamic youngsters in the temperance movement, but we will have to start thinking less traditionally. The traditional temperance movement does not take it's roots from other cultures. We can't only think about organisation, team meetings, protocols and conferences anymore. We have to become more appealing to Muslim youngsters than we are today. Muslims have a lot to offer us," Soevinsen says.

Although they don't drink alcohol, many youngsters with a foreign non-drinking background see no reason to join the temperance movement. They believe that what others do is their own business. In addition an increasing number of Muslim youngsters, especially boys, have started drinking in order to be accepted into the Norwegian culuture.

The influences on culture seem to work both ways.


Michelle Ingrid Green