a research project within the research program migration and integration

Rethinking Integration: a comparative mixed methods study of civil society action in vulnerable superdiverse neighbourhoods in Sweden

A research project within the research program migration and integration.

Project leader: Gabriella Elgenius

Period: 2020-23

Seat of learning: University of Gothenburg

Project title: Rethinking Integration: a comparative mixed methods study of civil society action in vulnerable superdiverse neighbourhoods in Sweden.

What is the project about?

The project ‘Rethinking Integration’ fills a gap in current scholarship by approaching civil society responses to integration across multiple domains in Sweden’s so called ‘vulnerable areas’, linking these to local contexts of vulnerability, to superdiversity, to formal and informal variants of civil society and social capital. Superdiverse neighbourhoods refer to areas with increasing levels of local diversity and population complexity in relation to a combination of factors such as gender, age, class, race, language, religion and diverging labour market experiences and, centrally, migration status and length of residence.

Civil society is increasingly recognized for aiding integration in central domains such as employment, economic sufficiency, language skills, health and political participation, and a multi-dimensional approach to integration is therefore required. However, previous research has almost exclusively focused on formal civil society organisations, and informal initiatives that fall below the administrative radar have received scant attention. As a result, superdiverse and vulnerable neighbourhoods have been described as civil society deserts, perhaps because informal initiatives were being overlooked.

‘Rethinking Integration’ builds on a multi-dimensional approach to integration and inclusion and aim for a detailed picture of civil society’s role in aiding integration in vulnerable areas, to develop theory around integration and social capital while contributing to long-standing debates about civil society and superdiversity.

Research Questions include:

How and why do civil society organisations support integration in vulnerable areas within conditions of superdiversity?

  • What types of civil society action are present and what forms do they take?
  • What forms of formal/informal civil society action are conducive to supporting integration? How do these operate and whom do they support?
  • How and by what mechanisms are different types of social capital (bonding/ bridging/ intermixtures) generated and how do they correspond to formal and informal civil society?

This project draws on a mixed methods approach, and combine analysis of register data and statistical analysis of how CSOs influence integration across various domains. This is done in tandem with qualitative micro-mapping of formal and informal activities in comparative qualitative case studies, where interviews are undertaken with local residents, civil society actors, local stakeholders, authority representatives and welfare providers.

Project Participants

This project is hosted by the Department of Sociology and Work Science at the University of Gothenburg. The project team includes researchers with a multi-disciplinary focus, which is appropriate for a study located on the intersection of disciplines. We draw on research by Gabriella Elgenius (project leader, University of Gothenburg) on nationalism, diaspora, integration and civil society, using qualitative and mixed methods; Juta Kawalerowicz (Stockholm University) on segregation, attitudes to immigration and quantitative methods, and Jenny Phillimore (University of Birmingham) on research into the third sector, superdiversity, integration and migrants’ access to employment and health.

PublISHED ON 11 December 2020

UpDATED ON 11 January 2021

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