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Learning to Live in a New Country – Everyday Social Integration

Civil Society and Integration – Nordic Rural Perspective

image of Learning to Live in a New Country – Everyday Social Integration

Available online: https://pub.norden.org/nord2020-036/ Abstract [en]: In this paper we focus on three of the main ways civil society can play a role in the integration of refugees and immigrants. The leading question we seek to answer is as follows. Are the ways in which civil society engages different in rural areas and in smaller communities around the Nordic Region, as compared with urban areas and large cities? We use evidence from interviews and transcripts with migration workers as our starting point. We then focus on the role of a) religious communities and aid organisations, b) sport organisations and clubs, c) pop-up activism and mentorship programmes from available literature and from Nordic seminars and dialogue. We will also focus on partnerships and forms of coordination between civil society organisations, municipalities and regions.

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Is trust a factor in how well everyday integration works?

A key indicator of social cohesion is the extent to which individuals express feelings of trust towards others (OECD, 2019). Trust is essential, but alien systems and the way things work in the new host country may disrupt the sense of trust for many newcomers. In the developing world, traditional social networks of exchange and reciprocity are critical components of household security, disaster relief, and social wellbeing – especially in rural areas (Baird and Gray, 2014). Coming to a cold-feeling hemisphere where neighbours rarely talk together, or invite each other to their homes for dinner, can be difficult. People’s behaviour can be radically different and more reserved than ‘back home’, and this may be a big culture shock. Even if organisational culture is strong locally, it may be a surprise to see how few daily encounters there are between neighbours. In smaller communities, this may be somewhat easier.

English

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