Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees in:

Barış Can Sever

The Role of Non-State Actors for Refugees in Turkey, page 25 - 46

Local Integration of Syrian Refugees in Mersin

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4497-1, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7533-3,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees In this chapter, the nexus between migration and integration will be discussed from the perspective of theoretical and conceptual debates. Specifically, integration of refugees and local integration will be theoretically examined, too. The conceptual frameworks, which will be explained and discussed in this chapter, will be employed to explain the results of the field research for the case of Syrians in Mersin, Turkey through the perspective of local integration within the following chapters. Also, elucidation of the concepts related to the migration and the integration of refugees is likely to illuminate the path towards the process of integration. At the end of the chapter, examples of good practices from several countries which relatively achieved to implement the management of refugee integration will be presented. Migration: Concept and Theories Migration can be simply defined as the movement of individuals or masses from one place to another one. However, the motivation, the reasons for movement, the method of departures and arrivals, the extent, process, direction, spatiality, the impact and the outcomes of the migration are highly diversified. That’s why migration has always been regarded as a multifaceted phenomenon in the nexus of different disciplines and approaches. It has been stressed that migration is not only an act of moving but it also contains a new experience of life which needs to be investigated concerning the dynamics of economy, social interactions, and law (Künbetoğlu, 2012: 49). Chapter 2 2.1. 25 Furthermore, the concepts embedded in migration literature vary considerably. The evolution of the concepts has been mostly managed by the agreements of the international migration and refugee regime. Also, the systemic features of the last two centuries world politics which has highly depended on the nation-state dominancy rendered the features of the concepts. For instance, the presence of nation-states entailed the occurrence of the division as internal and international migration. As a result, before discussing the major aspects and components of integration, the prominent concepts of migration will be presented. Immigration and emigration are two main concepts of international migration. While the former represents the motivation of settling in another country, the latter refers to the desire of leaving a country for a particular reason. As having short definitions given by the IOM, it is stated that while immigration is symbolizing “a process by which nonnationals move into a country for the purpose of settlement”, emigration points out “the act of departing or exiting from one State with a view to settling in another” (IOM, 2011: 32–49). Another related concept with refugee flows and other contemporary human movements is “forced migration”. It simply represents the idea that a reason or more than one factor cause people to move to another place without an individual willingness but due to external factors. According to the IOM, forced migration is defined as: “a migratory movement in which an element of coercion exists, including threats to life and livelihood, whether arising from natural or man-made causes” (IOM, 2011: 39). As indicated in the definition, the precipitating factor for forced migration can be an external factor such as a natural disaster or a war. When one examines the Syrian civil war and the flow of Syrian refugees, the type of migration can be defined as a forced migration. Syrian refugees carried out their flows both inside and outside of Syria by becoming internally and externally displaced people. Internal Displacement is also a very frequently referred to term in migration flows and it represents a dimension of forced migration which forcefully drags the people within the territory of their home country. Syrian refugees also became the latest example of internally displaced people due to the full-scale war in Syria. Currently, 6.3 million people in Syria are regarded as internally displaced persons Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 26 (UNHCR, 2017a). According to the IOM, an Internally Displaced Person is defined as: “Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border” (IOM, 2011: 52). While discussing the terminology of migration, probably “asylum seeker” and “refugee” can be considered two of the most highly debated terms. Asylum seeker is defined as “A person whose request or application for asylum has not been finally decided on by a prospective country of refuge” (IOM, 2004). A person keeps having the status of asylum seeker until acquiring the status of refugee in a country or is resettled in a third country as a refugee under international protection. One of the significant achievements of the international migration regime is determining the refugee status for people who are in need of protection because of displacement and forced migration. A refugee must face these circumstances in a home country to be protected under the status of being a refugee: “ -Well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion), -is outside the country of his nationality -is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country, -not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, -is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it” (UNHCR, 2011). Finally, diaspora is another term related to migration which explains the circumstances that a resettled community in another country mainly due to forced migration sustains relations with their country of origin by being aware of and engaging with political and social issues at homeland in spite of the distances between the countries (IOM, 2004). When the flows of Syrian refugees are taken into account, the occurrence of a new Syrian Diaspora seems to be inevitable in the long term. Turkey, which has been hosting more than 3 million refugees from Syria since 2017, looks like one of the countries that are going to be a place for Syrian Diaspora due to the prolonged war and the people’s settlement. In addition to that, there have been plenty of 2.1. Migration: Concept and Theories 27 other concepts regarding migration such as assisted voluntary return, border management, brain drain, brain gain, circular migration, irregular migration, labor migration, migration management, push-pull factors, receiving country, repatriation, stateless person and so on (IOM, 2017c). Before discussing migration theories, it must be underlined that the terminology of migration is a vital issue in respect to refugees and their rights. The attitudes and perceptions of individuals are highly influenced by the meanings of the concepts regarding migration terminology (Çorabatır, 2015). That’s why, by this concern, the section was aimed to introduce various concepts in migration terminology which would make the position of refugees within the international migration regime more clear. In addition to the major concepts and terms, there are also specific international migration theories which try to explain the movement of people by different aspects of the migration phenomenon and which are worth briefly mentioning here as to present a general picture. It must be noted that international migration theories cannot explain the events with a single theory (King, 2012) but they consist of various approaches, which are synthesized within interdisciplinary points of view. The aim here is to introduce prominent international migration theories. One of these theories is the neoclassical economics and push-pull theory. According to Kaya (2017), the theory which is based on the 19th century, suggested that international migration is mainly carried out from poor countries to wealthy ones (Kaya, 2017: 50). Also, it has been claimed that while the reasons for migration are mostly because of economic conditions, individuals are rationally making their decisions for this type of migration (Faist, 2000; King, 2012). Another one, migration, transitions and development -called by King (2012), has its origin in Zelinsky’s (1971) ‘hypothesis of mobility transition’ (King, 2012). Rather than economic concerns, the theory focuses on modernization processes and structural transitions as the roots of migratory movements. Furthermore, a prominent model of the historical-structural migration theory can be given as the world system theory which is also one of the distinctive theories of International Relations. The founder of this theory is Immanuel Wallerstein (1974). According to Viotti & Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 28 Kauppi (2012), the evolution of capitalism must be comprehended in order to analyze the political, social and economic relations at the global level (Viotti & Kauppi, 2012: 197). Concerning international migration, the theory asserts that due to the nature of the global capitalism, inevitable migratory movements from developing or least developed countries to developed capitalist countries have been observed historically (Kaya, 2017). Rather than the ethnic and sectarian conflicts in the homelands, this theory point outs the economic impacts on migrants’ decisions due to poverty and the search for better conditions. However, one may even claim that the hidden factors under the conflicts are also because of unjust economic share which has been influenced by the dynamics of global capitalism. Another prominent theory for international migration is transnational spaces theory which is highly related to the outcomes of the globalization process and technological developments in communication and transportation. According to the approaches of this theory, the activities of international migrants have been spatially taken into account as a focal point which points out the importance of transnational spaces (Faist, 1998; Collyer & King, 2012). It was claimed that there has been a constructed transnational space which preserve multiple languages, beliefs, cultures and life styles beyond and among the countries (Kaya, 2017). Last but not least, the theory of social networks takes its place in the international migration theories. According to Van Hear (2004), not only the economic/financial capital, but also the social and cultural capitals determine the possessions of the immigrants and refugees whose routes and final destinations are rendered by the equal combination of the dynamics of these capitals (Van Hear, 2004: 6). The theory tries to reveal how the social and cultural ties preponderantly influence the migratory movements which mostly end with the reunion of the family members/relatives and friends. Social capital can be interpreted as a determining factor for a type of migration in accordance with the theory of social networks. Important to note that this research does not mainly focus on migration theories of the causes and processes of leaving a place as it does not intend to explain in details the migratory movement of this specific case. Thereby, migration theories have been given in order to present 2.1. Migration: Concept and Theories 29 a general perspective. Rather, the research focuses on the refugee integration by dealing with the integration parameters and discussing the role of non-state actors in the process of refugee integration. Accordingly, the next section will be looking at the integration as an inclusive concept. Integration Integration is a broad concept which has been perceived in a number of different ways concerning the related actors in the field of migration. According to Castles et al. (2002), integration can be observed at each level and each segment of society. That’s why, it is not surprising to encounter the involvement of various figures on the ground such as “public officials, political decision-makers, employers, trade union officials, fellow-workers, service providers, neighbors and so on” while discussing the integration aspect of migration (Castles et al., 2002: 113). IOM has also been confirmed the openness of the integration to different interpretations and it defines “migrant integration” as “the process of mutual adaptation between host society and migrant” (IOM, 2017d). Furthermore, the integration is basically related to the issue of migrants and refugees’ settlement in a host society. However, it remains one of the most complex matters for not only the policy makers and the scholars but also the media and the public opinion. Additionally, it has been stressed that integration as a concept has not been carrying easy and unified understanding and definition for many who attribute different meanings and explanations to the concept (Ager & Strang, 2008; Robinson, 1998). It is also likely to observe various types of implementation on the ground concerning the integration works. Unutulmaz (2016) puts forward that although the occurrences of the concept were mainly influenced by the common experiences of the European countries in past, different countries have had a number of peculiar experiences and implementation on their own way towards the diversified meanings of the integration (Unutulmaz, 2016: 136). The author also claims that there have been various discourses and policies by different countries concerning the management of the integration 2.2. Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 30 process (Unutulmaz, 2016: 135). Moreover, integration works and the concept itself have been one of common interests for different disciplines such as anthropology, demography, urban and cultural studies, sociology, social work, psychology, social psychology, law, geography, economics, and politics (Valtonen, 2008: 59). In addition to that, when it comes to the matter of integration, the alternative and complementary concepts related to the integration need to be taken into account without hesitation. However, likewise the concept of integration, these terms have been perceived in diversified ways through the eyes of different actors due to various interests and perceptions. That’s why, one cannot suggest certain explanations for these concepts which could not match with a result of the stakeholders’ consensus. In the literature of different disciplines, nominative approaches to these concepts are likely to be carried out. As a result, to have a better understanding of the integration, there is always a need for conceptual debates on these alternative concepts. Even sometimes, due to nuances among the concepts, it is also possible to observe similar practices in the field of integration regarding the migration. Also, the difference between refugee integration and immigrant integration will be underlined here. First of all, the difference among these concepts mostly originated in the diversified needs of refugees and immigrants. In addition to that, the diversification of the needs rooted in their different motivations to leave the home country. While the refugees mostly escape the home country due to the reasons for forced migration, the immigrants who could be considered as economic and family linked migrants are generally in search of better life standards. Thereby, the responses of how integration works for these groups differ. According to the UNHCR, refugee integration, which legally finds its roots in the 1951 Refugee Convention, is considered as the most durable solution to the plights of the refugees under the international protection regime (UNHCR, 2013: 11). It starts with covering the basic needs of refugees and ends with the process of integration where there is no possibility for voluntary repatriation. On the other side, the integration of immigrants differs from the refugee integration as they do not mostly require the first step of integration which is designed to cover the very basic needs of the refugees. According to the Migration 2.2. Integration 31 Policy Institute (MPI), embracement of immigrants in the society in respect to the economic mobilization and social inclusion defines the immigrant integration (MPI, 2017). Considering the subjectivity of integration, the UNHCR indicated that there has been lack of a certain definition for the integration (UNHCR, 2013: 13). Thereby, it would be important to examine the models of integration and reveal several practices which were already implemented. Models of Integration The ways which states adopt and practice to integrate immigrants and refugees can vary due to several explicit and implicit reasons such as history, cultural preferences, understanding on nation-state and public opinion. These various ways of integration can be simply listed as different models such as accommodation, acculturation, adaptation, assimilation, inclusion, multiculturalism and social cohesion. One of the most prominent examples among these models is assimilation. According to the interpretation of Park and Burgess (1921/24) given by Valtonen (2008), the classical form of assimilation means that “a process of interpenetration and fusion in which persons and groups can acquire the memories, sentiments and attitudes of other persons and groups, and, in the process of sharing their experience and history, are incorporated with them in a common cultural life” (Valtonen, 2008: 65–66). On the other hand, assimilation refers to the ‘melting pot’ rather than the integration (Ramakrishnan & Balgopal, 1995). For instance, the policy for the refugees and immigrants coming to the US has been considered as a melting pot which gained public consent more than a century ago (Brown & Bean, 2006). Recently, German chancellor, Angela Merkel was criticized for gravitating to the assimilation policies rather than multiculturalism as an integration model (Modood, 2015). Accordingly, the evolution of the integration works throughout the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly in Europe, turned assimilation into a politically incorrect concept. 2.3. Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 32 Acculturation is another concept whose usage has also faced critiques concerning a new population in a host society. According to Aretakis (2011), there is a nuance between the acculturation and the assimilation that individuals choose to give up their own culture to be a part of the dominant culture in the society when it comes to the former. On the other hand, the latter is designed to be generally conducted without the consent of a particular population (Aretakis, 2011: 6– 7). However, from a different perspective, acculturation has been interpreted as an exchange of culture among different groups and communities they encounter in a society regardless of the negative and positive results of these exchanges (Berry, 1997). The qualitative features of the cultures and the quantitative features of the communities may be determinant factors for the dominancy in the society. However, one cannot deny the interactions among the cultures during the period of acculturation. It may come up with different results in the long term. Concerning the key elements in the acculturation process, acculturation among the Bosnian refugees and several communities in Australia was examined through the aspects such as “skills, language, and ruralurban background” in one of the researches in Australia (Colic-Peisker & Walker, 2003: 339). Multiculturalism has been one of the prominent notions which take a part within the conceptual debates related to the post-migration periods and integration. The term itself has become concrete with the co-existence of multiple ethnicities, cultures, customs, traditions, beliefs and life-styles of various individuals and communities in a same society but the sustainable presence of the peaceful nature of this coexistence sometimes needs to be managed by local and state policies. According to Kymlicka (2012), if a state, civil society and the individuals reach a better solution of the multiculturalism for the immigrants, asylum seekers and the host society, the main dynamics such as de-securitization of ethnic relations, respect for human rights, easing the people’s concerns regarding the border control, diversity of immigrant groups and just economic contribution, must be taken into account since the beginning of social relations among different people (Kymlicka, 2012: 2). In addition to that, Vasta (2007) claims the main principles of multiculturalism as the mutual accommodation, multiculturalism that embraces the whole society, equality and full participation, 2.3. Models of Integration 33 and racism as a destructive element (Vasta, 2007: 25–30). Canada is known as one of the countries which has successfully conducted multiculturalism. According to a recent poll, two-thirds of the population in Canada perceive multiculturalism as one of the most significant elements in Canadian politics (Tepperman, 2017). In addition to Canada, Australia and Sweden in particular circumstances, were distinctively reported as two countries of implementing multiculturalism for their culturally and ethnically diversified populations (Díaz, 2005: 2). Adaptation, a relatively more universal term than the other terms, is another concept for migration and integration studies. However, apart from the physical and environmental changes, there have been social changes which have the possibility to entail the discussions of negative and positive aspects. According to Berry (1997), adaptation simply means: “…the changes that take place in individuals or groups in response to environmental demands” (Berry, 1997: 13). Environmental demands must include both physical and social circumstances in a particular society and geography. While Berry also considers the close relations between acculturation and adaptation, he reveals the prominent dimensions of adaptation as psychological, socio-cultural, and economic (Berry, 1997: 6). Accordingly, one of the researches on Bosnia refugees in New York-the US, the successful circumstance of Bosnia refugees for adaptation to the local community were underlined in respect to the distinctive elements of the adaptations mentioned above such as psychological, socio-cultural, and economic (Owens-Manley & Coughlan, 2002: 2). Inclusion/insertion/incorporation, social cohesion, and accommodation are other concepts which have been debated among decision makers and scholars in order to prepare a better ground to the relations between the newcomers and local people in the society during the integration process. Each concept, likewise the others, is vague to be certainly defined and explained (Vasta, 2007). One may encounter various implementations and the results from the practices of these concepts. For instance, according to Fermin and Kjellstrand (2005), social cohesion is not only bridging the gap between the individuals and communities but also it adds positive aspects to the social capital of the humans (Fermin & Kjellstrand, 2005: 6). By looking at this interpretation, it can be understood that the span of the explanation of Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 34 social cohesion may come up with a number of strategies and implementations. On the contrary, an attempt to create cohesion in a society with certain policies may end up with the abuse of human rights. Apart from the concepts related to integration, it would also be necessary to review the fundamental dynamics of the integration process. For this purpose, Ager and Strang’s (2008) Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework could be one of the guides for the researcher to comprehend the parameters of the integration. According to Ager and Strang (2008), ten key domains have been determined to assess the integration. These ten key domains were grouped under four main chapters as means and markers, social connections, facilitators and foundation (Ager & Strang, 2008: 170). Each dimension includes specific domains which help the researcher to analyze the integration process in order. Employment, housing, education and health constitute the first step of the integration process as a part of means and markers. Social connections are comprised of social bridges, social bonds and social links. Furthermore, while the facilitators are language & cultural knowledge and safety & stability, the foundation part covers the rights & citizenship (p. 3). The model (Figure 2) was taken from Ager and Strand (2008) who are the formulators of this guidance (Ager & Strand, 2008: 170). A Conceptual Framework Defining Core Domains of Integration Source: Alastair Ager & Alison Strang (2008). Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework, p. 170. Figure 2. 2.3. Models of Integration 35 The issues of employment, housing, education and health with sustainable nutrition are key elements of the refugees and immigrants’ survival in a new environment of the host society and unknown geography. These fundamental elements are not only significant necessities for their survival but also they are the constituents of a successful integration process (Ager & Strang, 2004). Each of these elements must be well-designed with the formulation of public policies and the cooperation among various actors on the ground. Otherwise, even a failure in one of these elements would interrupt the process of integration. Although the markers and means is the fundamental dimension of successful integration, the satisfaction of these four elements is not the ultimate outcome of the integration process in which local people and refugees/immigrants need to feel comfortable for their joint life in the society. That’s why, the second step reveals the importance of social life dynamics within the integration process. For a successful integration regarding the social aspects, IOM (2017) asserts a key component of the process “social inclusion of migrants and marginalized groups, including increased access of migrants to public services” (IOM, 2017d). The next one is the facilitators. Facilitators mostly represent the capacity of refugees and local people concerning their ability to learn new languages and cultures. Due to the nature of integration as a two-way process, not only the capacity of the refugees but also the local people’s effort will be a facilitating factor for a smooth and successful integration. Furthermore, mutual trust between the refugees and the local people matters greatly. UNHCR particularly highlighted the importance of specific projects related to the peaceful coexistence and the mutual trust in the society among the refugees and local people in order to overcome the social problems and possible conflicts (UNHCR, 2017b: 5). In countries like Turkey and Greece where the refugee numbers are high, the projects related to the peaceful coexistence could be enhanced. The top layer of the indicator pyramid comprises the foundation. The foundation mainly represents the idea of ‘rights and citizenship’ for the refugees within the integration process (Ager & Strang, 2008). Also, the UNHCR has been presenting the presence of freedom of expression, assembly and association for the refugees in accordance with the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (UNHCR, 2006: 165–166). Furthermore, the matters of rights and citizenship are highly contentious Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 36 issues in every society. Various expectations of the individuals and groups with the inclusion of responsibilities given by the social contracts, bring about the perpetual debates in the societies. When it comes to the refugees and immigrants rights and citizenship, it is one of the most difficult areas to ease the concerns of the local people and respond to the expectations of the refugees and immigrants at the same time. However, the ultimate goal of integration in the nation-state framework is to give the refugees and immigrants citizenship at the end of the process. Regarding the circumstance of the refugees, the UNHCR highlights the importance of long-term solutions which include the local integration as one of the options (UNHCR, 2001–2017d). Thus, ending the process of local integration with giving refugees citizenship, would be one of the significant indicators of a successful integration. Therefore, one must remind that, without completing each step of the integration appropriately, giving citizenship is not likely to solve the problems of the refugees and the local people concerning the needs of the refugees, the concerns of the local people and the social cohesion in the society. In another approach to the integration structure, a series of integration layers (Fig. 3) was displayed by Spencer and Charsley (2016) below (Spencer & Charsley, 2016: 4). By displaying the figure below, the authors emphasized that integration does not only contain a single dimension but also a series of steps waiting to be achieved. Integration as Two Way Processes Across Domains Source: Sarah Spencer & Katharine Charsley (2016). Conceptualising integration: a framework for empirical research, taking marriage migration as a case study, p. 4. Figure 3. 2.3. Models of Integration 37 Structural dimension of the integration domains is generally designed to respond to the basic needs of the refugees. It has been regarded “as in participation in the labor and housing market, education and training” (Spencer & Charsley, 2016: 4–5). To be able to have a sustainable income and accommodation in the host society, the involvement in the labor market is vital. Also, carrying on the educational life and getting vocational training would be accelerating factors to the involvement in the labor and housing market. More participation at the structural level would be a signal for a stronger integration. In addition to that, the social level of integration represents the idea of social interactions, relationships and marriages (Spencer & Charsley, 2016: 5). Social relation is one of the fundamental pillars of a society. Without interaction between the refugees and the local community, integration would be meaningless. It would entail a number of problems such as isolation of the refugees, misunderstandings and conflicts between the refugees and the local people at their first encounter. Closely associated with the dimension of social life, cultural factors play a significant role in the integration. The authors of the formulation above explain cultural level of the integration by stressing the notions as: “changing values, attitudes, behavior and lifestyle” (Spencer & Charsley, 2016: 5). During the process of settlement and integration, different cultures may encounter a chaotic atmosphere where institutional settings are weak regarding migration and integration. In this atmosphere, differences among lifestyles, values and attitudes would bring about a number of social problems. Also, even though there is a well-planned institutional setting on integration works, integration would not result in a better situation unless there is a respectful and tolerant understanding of attitudes and behavior. Furthermore, modern community life ideally requires each individual to be engaged in the civic life and decision-making processes. Not only local people but also the refugees must be encouraged to join in “the community life and democratic process” (Spencer & Charsley, 2016: 5). This aspect of integration is called civic and political participation (Spencer & Charsley, 2016). For instance, the Syrians’ participation in the civic life in Turkey through their own civil society organizations would be an accelerating factor for their engagement with the society. It is also crucial for refugees to be aware of written and oral rules Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 38 of the host country. Last but not least, is identity. During the integration process, the matters of identity have been interpreted as “the processes through which individuals develop at some level a shared identity and sense of belonging with the place, nation, communities and people among whom they live” (Entzinger, 2000; Heckmann & Schnapper, 2003; Ager & Strang, 2008; Spencer, 2011; Spencer & Charsley, 2016). While a shared identity is encouraging the refugees to be a part of the host society, it might also lead them to lose their origin of identity and sense of belonging with the place they were forced to leave. Integration of Refugees As mentioned before, integration is a broad concept which includes a variety of sub-dimensions that enlightens different strategies and methods for the inclusion of refugees and their recognition by the host society. It is a very dynamic concept in which the ideas and implementations for the integration have been gradually evolving as individuals and societies constantly do. The dynamism of the process of refugee integration has been highlighted by the UNHCR as written that: “local integration in the refugee context is a dynamic and multifaceted twoway process, which requires efforts by all parties concerned, including a preparedness on the part of refugees to adapt to the host society without having to forego their own cultural identity, and a corresponding readiness on the part of host communities and public institutions to welcome refugees and to meet the needs of a diverse population” (UNHCR Executive Committee, 2005). It has also been evaluated by different points of view which are likely to render the content and methodology of the integration process. The broadness of integration by its very nature is derived from the feature of multidimensionality. Various aspects related to humans and everyday life inevitably creates this multidimensionality of the integration concept. One may claim that a fully successful integration process cannot be achieved without the satisfaction of all integration parameters. These parameters of the individuals’ integration into a society can be simply summarized and categorized as structural, social, cultural, 2.4. 2.4. Integration of Refugees 39 civic and political participation, and identity. At this point, Moreira and Baeninger (2010) indicated that employment of refugees, access to public services for covering fundamental needs, learning local languages, civic and political participation with the inclusion of citizenship rights and socially developed relations with the local community are key factors to a successful integration (Moreira & Baeninger, 2010: 48). On the other hand, Heckmann (2006) reminds that integration does not mean a temporary protection for refugees who are granted basic rights and support (Heckman, 2006: 13). This idea would be challenging to the temporary protection regime for the Syrians in Turkey who are mostly supposed to maintain their stay in Turkey more than expected and need to encounter a certain vision of integration policies. In another perspective, Heckmann puts forward that there is a possibility of ending the integration process by refugees if they decide to move back to their country of origin (Heckmann, 2006: 13). This is also one of the contentious debates in host societies concerning the future of refugees. However, a bigger danger for the refugees is maintained in the country of origin, more they want to stay in the host society. Thus, integration seems inevitable for the ones who have the prolonged state of being a refugee. The above mentioned conceptual debates and indicated parameters are significant for this research since the findings regarding the integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin will be analyzed based on these debates and parameters. Before this analysis, the levels of integration and the role of non-state actors within these levels will be discussed. State-Level and Local Level Integration States have the ultimate authority to control their borders in accordance with nation-state sovereignty in the international system. Therefore, the authority of the states regarding nation-state sovereignty has been paving the way for state dominancy in the policy-making area in respect to migratory movements, the settlement and integration of refugees and immigrants. Accordingly, states do not only represent the immigrant-receiving countries but also the emigrant-regulating enti- 2.5. Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 40 ties (Massey, 1999: 303). On the other hand, there have been other arguments which emphasize the descending power of states in the realm of international migration due to several reasons such as globalization and changing patterns in world politics (Vezzoli, 2014: 4; Bhagwati, 2003; Castles, 2004; Strikwerda, 1999: 394). Nevertheless, states are powerful actors in matters of international migrations as they can control “initiating, selecting, restraining, and ending international migration movements” (Teitelbaum, 2002: 157). In addition to that, states mostly have the control of refugee settlement and integration within their borders in accordance with the issue of nation-state sovereignty. It could be seen that various sources have focused on the role of the state in the integration of refugees and immigrants (Korac, 2002; Valenta & Bunar, 2010). Refugee integration may occur at different levels. One of these is the state-level integration which demonstrates how decisions are centrally made and implemented on the area of integration. At the statelevel, the integration processes are managed and implemented by the central authority whose rules are binding for different actors within the territory of a nation-state. Only binding international laws can create a space for several actors to act without the permission and consent of the central authority in particular cases. The state-level integration also defines the process where governments make decisions and implement integration without interference from a third-party. A report prepared by The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) asserts that: “government spending for the reception and integration of people seeking international protection varies significantly across countries” (OECD, 2017: 2). Therefore, a possible interpretation of this argument might lead us to say that central governments in the countries not only manage integration and policy making but also coordinate the budget and other resources for integration. In another perspective, states would be expected to meet their commitments to the international organizations in which they are participating. For instance, it was stated that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is expecting participating States to implement penetrating policies for migrant integration in the domain of sovereignty. Both the responsibility of the states within the na- 2.5. State-Level and Local Level Integration 41 tion-state territory and the commitments to the international organizations would urge the states to conduct necessary policies concerning the migration and integration. In the case of Syrian refugees, Turkey delegated the DGMM under the Prime Ministry to engage with the refugees and conduct the harmonization policies which were not regarded as both assimilation and integration by the Directorate General (DGMM, 2015). On the other hand, the International Crisis Group (ICG) revealed an example from the Syrians’ case in Turkey where even though the municipalities mostly engaged with the problems of Syrians, the central authority in Ankara has not included the municipalities in the decision-making process (ICG, 2016: 13). In another example presented by the ICG, it was indicated that the decisions on the refugee camps are centrally taken without a dialogue with the local people who have some concerns regarding the matters of identity and security in the selected areas for the refugee camps (ICG, 2016: 17). In addition to state-level integration, local integration also prevails within the area of migration and integration. Thereby, the next section will be focusing on local integration which has been perceived as one of the prominent responses to the refugee issues in international migration. Local Integration Local integration often takes place within the web of durable solutions such as voluntary repatriation, resettlement in a third country, and local integration to the plight of refugees and better response for the creation of social relations between local people and refugees. It can be simply defined as a process of providing durable conditions for the refugees and local people which comprise the assurance of legal, economic and social rights (Fielden, 2008). Especially, it is one of the prominent solutions for easing the lives of refugees when other options are not viable. The first chapter of the thesis clarified that repatriation is not likely to solve the Syrian refugees’ problems in Turkey due to the prolonged war in Syria. With respect to this, Low (2006) points out local integration as a preferred solution that: “it allows those refugees 2.6. Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 42 who cannot or do not wish to repatriate the possibility to enjoy the freedoms and livelihood they would have in their home countries” (Low, 2006: 65). On the other hand, Fielden (2008) touched upon the significant potential of local integration which was not adequately discovered at that time. This potential of local integration is believed to be a remedy for the plights of the refugees (Fielden, 2008). As the concept of integration is perceived through different understandings, local integration can also be referred by diversified points of view. Moreira and Baeninger (2010) present the main aspects of the local integration process as indicating that: “local integration is a complex economic, political, social and cultural process” (Moreira & Baeninger, 2010: 48). Each pillar of the local integration can be evaluated by their own dynamics but they also need to be collectively assessed with the aggregation of other dimensions for a better and analytical analysis. While the presence of various dynamics demonstrate the complex process of local integration, it is highly important to comprehend the nature of integration. On this matter, it is argued that integration is a shared process by refugees and local actors which are comprised of a number of aspects such as cultural, social, economic, religious and legal dynamics (IOM, 2008). In addition to that, for a better understanding of local integration, Sert (2014) puts forward that when the comprehensive literature on integration is taken into account, it must be remembered that integration is a mutual process where both the refugees and the host society need to be active shareholders of this process (Sert, 2014: 164). It must be highlighted that local integration would not be a meaningful and functional process without the active participation of local people. Vice versa, the presence of refugees with their willingness within integration works is considerably important for the mutual recognition. Moreover, it was claimed that the integration is a dynamic process which requires the participation of whole society (Läärä, 2012: 47). At this point, it is clearly pointed out that including refugees into the working life is not likely to be an adequate measure for the completion of successful integration. There must also be a comprehensive strategy ranging from social, legal and cultural adaptation (refugees’ awareness of both written and oral rules of a local community) to the preserva- 2.6. Local Integration 43 tion of the refugees’ own languages, beliefs and cultures. One may construct a synthesis of former and latter arguments that local integration is a highly difficult and sophisticated process which consists of various dimensions and needs of mutual active participation by the refugees and local people. As it happens in the case of Syrian refugees in Turkey, when long-term refugees need to be protected and integrated into local society, local integration seems to be a prominent response to the problems of the refugees and the local communities in spite of the difficulty and complicacy of the process. Furthermore, one may claim that the mutual participation for the local integration can be relatively easier and shorter than other integration strategies due to the scope of area and population. In addition to the scope of area and population, the participation of related actors to the local integration is a highly important matter for a functioning local integration. The role of various actors differs regarding the engagement with the refugees. Without the effective participation of authorities and non-state actors, local integration is not likely to function properly. Thus, the next chapter will be focusing on the role of nonstate actors in the integration without exclusion of the perspective of official regulations. On the other hand, while the formulations and approaches on paper to integration works seem flawless for some, the practices in the field concerning the state of being “good or bad” and “success or failure” vary considerably (European Parliament, 2013). The most difficult part is to conduct the policies related to integration and see the results as progress. On the other hand, the idea and the way of implementation of integration works may not be perceived by some in a positive way. At this point, it will be a constructive way of analysis that examining the good practices and taking into account the criticism towards integration works at the same time. Although countries still need to improve their skills and capacities to achieve a complete and successful integration, some of them are in an advanced position due to the long history of migratory movements, the reception and the integration of the new populations. Also, even though the actors and strategies considerably differ in the integration works, one of the important factors to measure the achievement is the country itself where the integration process is held. Each country has Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 44 its own peculiar circumstances with the changing dynamics and policies in accordance with the domestic features of politics, economy, and social life. That’s why, focusing on some countries will be helpful to understand several good practices for a better integration. Especially, countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, and Germany, have been assessed as having long-standing experiences of refugee reception and integration with their relative successes through the Euro-centric understanding. The Swedish resettlement and integration program has been evaluated as one of the examples of the good practices in spite of some shortcomings. According to a study of European Parliament (2013), Sweden seems prepared for the integration works with the promotion of pre-arrival and post-arrival informative meetings. Also, the program for the refugees in Sweden significantly comprises financial and medical assistance, language training, labor market entry, enjoying the right to education and volunteer supports by the cooperation of municipalities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and churches (European Parliament, 2013: 92). Another example of good practices can be given from Canada. Specifically, Canada is known as a place of multiculturalism whose ideas and practices have been interiorized by the public and embedded in the constitution by the state (Kymlicka, 2012). Multiculturalism within the presence of the nation-based identity has worked in Canada in that the differences of the local people and the immigrant do not generate disharmony or conflicts (Kymlicka, 2012: 11–12). However, most of the newcomers have been immigrants rather than refugees. That’s why, it might be good as well to investigate whether multiculturalism has been successfully opted for the refugees who have different profiles and motivations than the immigrants. Furthermore, in the case of Germany, the cities of Hamburg and Berlin have been reported as using innovative methods on the way to the integration of the refugees in respect to economic and social integration (Katz et al., 2016). It is also important to indicate the importance of the innovation because it would help the immigrant-receiving countries to respond to the flow of the refugees with a favorable way in the recent times. In addition to that, special programs like the Gateway Protection Program has been implemented in various countries such 2.6. Local Integration 45 as Australia, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United States in order to contribute to the integration process by encouraging research on the refugees, integration, and local community (Sim & Laughlin, 2014). On the other hand, one of the prominent critiques to integration works is that with the exclusion of consultation of the refugee population, the complaints by the migrant communities would be raised towards the policy makers. At this point, it is also indicated that measuring the integration will be open to different interpretations which would not generate a unified approach due to the exclusion of refugee’s voices from the decision-making process (Fekete & Mühe, 2010; Carrera & Atger, 2011; European Parliament, 2013). In addition to that, the formulations of the academia related to the conceptual dynamics and possible practices of the integration, and the approaches and the implementation by the policy makers would not be in harmony (European Parliament, 2013). This situation could entail confusion and misunderstandings among the actors on the field, the host society and the refugees. Furthermore, another criticism is derived from the vagueness of the concepts and the similarities of some practices on the field. As was mentioned before, the concepts related to integration are variously construed. The diversified interpretations have brought about the occurrence of different reflections from the relevant actors on the ground. According to Schneider & Crul (2010), “In all Western countries which have been the destination for large-scale migration over the past decades, integration and assimilation issues are heavily debated” (Schneider & Crul, 2010: 1143). For instance, when some of the integration practices are perceived as part of an assimilation policy which has been regarded as politically incorrect in accordance with the politics of the modern era, there could be divergences among the practitioners, scholars, media, civil society and the refugee population concerning the formulation and implementation of the integration policies. The next chapter will be focusing on the role of non-state actors in the integration process by finding out which non-actors are related to the matters of refugee integration with local approaches. Chapter 2 Theoretical and Conceptual Debates on Local Integration and Integration of Refugees 46

Chapter Preview



In this research, the theoretical and conceptual debates on the local integration of refugees and the role of non-state actors in the integration are brought together. Their investigation take place in the nexus of migration management, the implementation of the states and non-state actors on the field. Particularly, the local integra-tion is examined through the Syrians’ stay in Mersin/Turkey. In the methodology part of this research, semi-structured interviews were applied to 20 non-state actors in Mersin (Summer 2017) in order to have an idea about the role that they have played in the local integration of Syrian refugees. In this way, while the profiles of selected non-state actors in the field were revealed, their participation and contribution to the integration pro-cess were interpreted.


In dieser Studie werden die theoretischen und konzeptionellen Debatten über die lokale Integration von Flüchtlingen und die Rolle nichtstaatlicher Akteure bei der Integration zusammengebracht. Diese werden im Umfeld des Zusammenhangs mit dem Migrationsmanagement, der Umsetzung der Staaten und der nichtstaatlichen Akteure vor Ort betrachtet. Insbesondere wird die lokale Integration durch den Aufenthalt der Syrer in der türkischen Stadt Mersin untersucht. Im methodischen Teil dieser Studie wurden zwanzig nichtstaatliche Akteure in Mersin (Sommer 2017) mit halbstrukturierten Interviews befragt, um eine Vorstellung davon zu bekommen, welche Rolle sie bei der lokalen Integration syrischer Flüchtlinge gespielt haben. Auf diese Weise wurden zwar die Profile ausgewählter nichtstaatlicher Akteure in diesem Bereich aufgedeckt, ihre Beteiligung und ihr Beitrag zum Integrationsprozess interpretiert.