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Refugee integration: Emerging trends and remaining agendas

By Alison Strang and Alastair Ager


This paper uses the foundation of the conceptual framework proposed by Ager and Strang (2004a, 2008) to reflect on the focus and findings of papers in this special issue on refugee integration and other recent work. Arguing that 'mid-level theory' of the sort presented in the framework provides a strong basis for structuring academic debate and dialogue with practitioners and policymakers, we identify four key issues that although of some current interest warrant further attention. First, we consider recent evidence from Europe and elsewhere on how prevailing notions of nationhood and citizenship determine understandings of integration, and argue that this powerfully shapes the social space available to refugees with regard to 'belonging'. Second, we note the wide adoption of concepts of social capital in framing components of social connection in the context of integration, but suggest greater attention is paid to the manner in which bonds, bridges and links establish forms of reciprocity and trust in social relations. Third, we examine the notion that integration is a 'two way' process, and suggest how this might be expanded to embrace the multiplicity and fluidity of social meaning and identity. Fourth, we reflect on Hobfoll's (1998) work on 'resource acquisition spirals' as a basis for effectively conceptualizing the dynamic interplay between factors mapped by the framework in shaping trajectories of integration. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved

Publisher: OUP
Year: 2010
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