The Importance of subjectively constructed meaning: Integration viewed from the perspective of immigrants

Antonella Spanò, Markieta Domecka

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In political discourse, as much as in social studies, the term integration is commonly viewed in the context of migration. On the basis of ‘objective’ indicators and statistical analysis, the level of integration is measured and assessed as ‘low’ or ‘high’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘insufficient’. This is the perspective of the receiving countries (not migrants), which clearly dominates in this field of study. Seeing this perspective as partial, we decided to ask migrants themselves what integration means to them. The analysis of the narrative interviews conducted with Ukrainian, Srilankese and Senegalese men and women living in the South of Italy has demonstrated that integration for them is more related to the notion of ‘good life’ than to a desire of becoming ‘one of us’. Our interviewees’ approach to integration is very pragmatic as pursuing their own life projects, even if they turn out to be relatively modest, is after all their main concern. From their narratives emerges an idea of integration as acceptance and satisfaction, but without aspirations for equality, participation and full social and political rights, which calls for more active integration policies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPrzeglad Socjologii Jakosciowej
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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