A whole-of-community approach to study post-2014 migrants’ integration in small and medium-sized towns and rural areas State of the art, concepts, theory and methodology
Tiziana Caponio; Andrea Pettrachin
In recent years, the EU has received an unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers, often in a disordered way. This has led to a growing presence of immigrants in small and medium-sized cities and rural areas
How these local communities respond to this challenge will profoundly shape the future of integration into Europe. Whole-COMM proposes to address these problems through an innovative research approach that conceives the integration of migrants as a community-building process characterized by: (a) taking place in local contexts with certain structural constraints; b) being the result of interactions between multiple actors from different levels and locations; and c) having an open ending that can lead to more cohesive or fragmented social relationships. The focus of the project on small and medium-sized cities and rural areas thus allows to contribute to filling a gap in research and political debates beyond large cities.
Whole-COMM promotes scientific knowledge about the dynamics and causal mechanisms that influence the complex relationship between integration policies and Community cohesion. This is through a comparative approach between countries (8 EU and 2 non-EU) and between localities (40), and a mixed methodology that combines qualitative and quasi-experimental techniques, an attitude survey and a quantitative analysis on the impact of policies on social cohesion and immigrant integration trajectories. At the policy level, Whole-COMM aims to encourage debate through the production of new comparative knowledge and interaction with a variety of actors in a policy learning and co-creating process. This is in order to drive innovation in small and medium-sized cities and rural areas, and to build more cohesive and resilient communities towards change.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004714