Refugee Integration Opportunity Structures: shifting the focus from refugees to context

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Whilst it is increasingly acknowledged that integration is “a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents”, the focus in integration theory, policy and practice has been placed upon refugees or migrants themselves. The role of receiving societies in supporting and providing the context for integration has not been systematically interrogated. This paper is original in its focus upon the role of receiving societies in shaping refugee integration outcomes. It attends to multiple interconnecting receiving society opportunity structures shifting thinking about refugee integration by asking how refugee receiving countries influence refugee integration. Introducing five sets of host society opportunity structures: locality, discourse, relations, structure and initiatives and support the paper highlights the impossibility of understanding integration outcomes using the uni-dimensional models that have largely dominated thinking to date. Instead a two-dimensional integration model is proposed which will allows for more nuanced understanding of integration processes and how they occur at different levels. The paper ends by outlining some ideas around how migration scholars to shift their focus from refugee characteristics to understanding better the influence of host society opportunity structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfeaa012
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Early online date12 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2020


  • Refugees
  • opportunity structures
  • context
  • integration


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