Discourses on Symbiosis, Social Inclusion, Integration and Solidarity in the European Union
European societies are, and will continue to become, increasingly diverse. Few countries make systematic efforts to integrate migrants into their social and political fabric and fewer still can claim success. Because of existing social inequalities in several EU member states, marginalised groups are suffering from social exclusion and isolation. There are several definitions of what integration is, according to academics: Integration is an individual and a social process – hence inherently subjective and reversible – and a state resulting from the process (Bohning et al, 1995); Integration is about the kind of relations a migrant manage to establish that enable gaining knowledge and access to housing and jobs (Penninx 2000); Integration is not only a “two way process”, a definition that seems to imply two homogeneous subjects: the host society and the refugee community. It rather involves many actors, agencies, logics and rationalities (Sigona 2005); Integration is a colonial top down concept (Mignolo 2011; Jefferess 2013) that places the onus on migrants to become part of a society through building bridging capital; Integration is about how people forge relationships to enhance connectedness with a place (Wessendorf 2018). Relations are not in place just because there is a need, it is rather about a mutual sense of being human.
The European Union not only needs to step up gear in managing migration flows, but also in developing sound, effective and efficient, data-based integration policies for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. At the same time, the Union needs to develop its social inclusion policies for all residing within its territory, including marginalised communities, and strengthen solidarity ties amongst EU citizens to counter fragmentation trends.
The goal of SymbEU is to better understand the process of integration and inclusion and devise ways to effectively address civic engagement challenges. As newcomers and the host societies are changing, examination of integration focuses on the interactive effects of migration on receiving communities and migrants themselves.
The project Discourses on Symbiosis, Social Inclusion, Integration and Solidarity in the European Union / SymbEU meets:
- The need of researchers and civil society actors to interact with the developments taking place at European level in the field of integration of migrants and refugees, as well as to identify new questions that touch upon core issues which affect the citizens’ way of life in a changing society, including marginalised groups.
- The commitment of dedicated researchers, practitioners and academics to promote and enhance the analysis of the movement of people, well as to readdress the state of European integration and the core of the constitutive elements of European citizenship, in line with human rights protection and in the light of the growing public hesitation and the rise of racism and xenophobia in European societies.