Economic self-reliance or social relations? What works in refugee integration? Learning from resettlement programmes in Japan and the UK

Jenny Phillimore, Linda Morrice, Kunihiko Kabe, Naoko Hashimoto, Sara Hassan, Marisol Reyes Soto

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There is an urgent need to expand the scale and scope of refugee resettlement schemes, and yet country approaches to resettlement vary markedly and there is little cross-country learning from approaches and refugee experiences. In Japan, resettlement focuses on economic self-sufficiency through employment; whereas the UK, through Community Sponsorship volunteers, on providing social connections to facilitate integration. This paper explores the strengths and short-comings of each approach and examines the ways in which refugee resettlement programmes prioritising different integration domains might influence refugee experiences of integration more widely. Drawing on principles and domains set out in the Indicators of Integration Framework (Ndofor-Tah, C. Strang, A. Phillimore, J. Morrice, L., Michael, L., Wood, P., Simmons, J. (2019) Home Office Indicators of Integration framework 2019), insight is provided into the multi-dimensionality of integration and new understandings about the nature of social connections are offered. The findings highlight the context specific nature of integration policy and practice and underline the importance of a holistic approach. We conclude that resettlement initiatives might incorporate both employers and local communities working in collaboration to support newly arrived refugees but with some state involvement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages19
JournalComparative Migration Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for the financial support from the Quality-Related Strategic Priorities Funding, UKRI 2019–2020, College of Social Sciences and ESRC IAA.

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the financial contributions of the Economic and Social Research Council which enabled the establishment of the NODE UK/Japan network which facilitated our collaboration. Thanks are due too to the Japan Foundation for contributing to the symposium at Waseda University in December 2019 wherein the authors began working together. We are extremely grateful for the time that refugee respondents in both the UK and Japan shared with us and their generous efforts to share their experiences. We are thankful too to the Community Sponsorship groups in the UK who helped set up these interviews. Finally thanks go to the UKRI and ESRC IAA funds for enabling us to undertake the interviews in the UK.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Community sponsorship scheme
  • Economic self-sufficiency
  • Integration
  • Refugees
  • Resettlement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Law


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