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Integration and the Role of Social Networks: A Comparative Study on Migrants in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

Objective



Research objectives and content

This project focuses on the socio-economic integration process of migrants at the places of destination. A topic, which is of increasing relevance to many member states of the European Union, as they are increasingly confronted with the presence of large ethnic communities who socially and economically have not been able to become full members of the societies in which they live. Socio-economic integration of migrants is a complex process. Often it is explained by individual characteristics of the migrant group or by structural features of the receiving society. However, an important explanation for success or failure of integration may be found at an intermediate level, i.e. that of social networks.

While often mentioned in studies, little substantive and in-depth research has been conducted on this topic. This research therefore proposes to gain insight into the socio-economic integration process of migrants by specifically focusing on the role of social networks in this process. It will do so from a comparative perspective by studying the integration process of Caribbean migrants in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. These countries are examples of different socio-economic and political systems, which pose different opportunities and constraints for integration. In this study it will be illustrated how comparable groups of migrants may use or develop different social networks to achieve socio-economic integration in different settings, in other words the research will focus on the interaction between social network formation and the local opportunity structure. This project will provide new insights into integration processes of migrants by focusing on social networks and will give a new dimension to network analysis in migration studies through a comprehensive and comparative approach. Both the academic community as policy-makers will benefit from the results of this project.

Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)

The applicant studied the role of social networks in the Mexican migration to the U.S. for her PhD work. The proposed project offers a unique opportunity to broaden her understanding of the role of social networks in migration and integration processes and, especially, to extend her experiences to the European setting. The Sussex Centre for Migration Research, with its focus on interdisciplinary and international collaborative research, will provide an outstanding and inspiring environment for the applicant to develop further her academic skills.

Links with industry / industrial relevance (2')

The results of this study will be of interest for employers who want to recruit immigrants and members of ethnic minorities, but who have not been able to do so successfully. Insight into how social networks affect socio-economic integration, e.g. how migrants find jobs, can help to reduce the mismatch been the demand and supply of immigrant labour. The results of this study should enable employers to develop alternative strategies to target specific workers.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX
Address
Falmer
BN1 9SJ Brighton / Falmer
United Kingdom