Austria as an immigration country
From a historical point of view Austria has significant experience in dealing with migration in context of labour and warfare for the most part from nearby countries. Over the course of the last decade migration patterns as well as countries of origin diversified: An increasing number of persons compulsorily immigrate to Austria from geographically remote countries. Migration forecasts suggest that this process will go on over the next few years. Therefore, there are completely new challenges in involving migrants in extant communities. As a result, it appears necessary to develop appropriate practices of social inclusion.
Common inclusion and exclusion practices
It is obvious that a scientific basis for understanding contemporary practices of inclusion and exclusion of refugees is an essential requirement. In more detail and building on this basis, the research project will contribute to developing social work interventions on the process of social inclusion. In exploring migrants' involvements in rural communities the project applies the theoretical concept of social inclusion in deliberate contrast to the concept of integration.
The project applies qualitative research methods, such as:
- narrative interviews and group discussions on one hand with refugees and on the other hand with members of the given society
- participant observations taking place in refugee accommodation and at events bringing together refugees and members of the given community
- artifact analysis exploring material culture
As a long term goal this research project will enhance scientific knowledge about refugees' inclusion into communities. As a result it develops a basis for both social work interventions and for policy consultation.