This thesis consists of three empirical case studies, originally published as MERGE- papers ('Papers on transcultural studies' published at MERGE, Centre for Studies on Migration, Ethnic Relations and Globalisation at the Department of Sociology, University of Umeå), brought together and framed by a lengthier introduction. The empirical studies examine Swedish refugee reception activities, including the experiences of refugees themselves, with a focus on organisational and inter-organisational matters, and, in this context, the suitability as well as problems, mechanisms and issues, of implementation.
According to Swedish policy aims since the mid-70s, immigrants are guaranteed equality, freedom of choice and partnership in relation to social, political and cultural rights. Based upon this background, an ambitious institutionalisation of refugee reception and integration policy was initiated in 1985, implicating the setting up of a new reception system involving almost every Swedish municipality. However, this political reform came to meet with fundamental problems, such as the absence of clear political goals and a remarkably low priority in the work of local political bodies. As a consequence, the ability and the ambitions of civil servants to apply an integrated approach to the reception process, and to foster growing co-operation among relevant local institutions to improve services and opportunities for integration, have not materialised as intended. These deficiencies of local integration policies appear to be connected with implementation problems, issues and obstacles, such as a lack of developed inter-organisational co-ordination mechanisms, lack of a clear division of labour and responsibility among concerned parties, economic obstruction etc. In addition to this, the resources that local refugee receptions have had at their disposal have been a high degree varying and unstable, with the consequence that the reception's organisation, e.g. as immigrant bureaus, has been subjected to constant remoulding. Continuous initiatives for restructuring the reception procedures seem seldom have been well suited, and in addition to this, there has been a lack of opportunities for influence by the refugees themselves concerning conditions of reception and inroads into integration. The conclusion is, somewhat paradoxical, that many of the refugee reception's political-administrative problems are fabricated by and within the refugee reception system and immigrant policy itself. In the thesis, a general background for necessary improvements of the service for refugees is outlined, making possible a lot of reformistic suggestions.
While the thesis lays bare the problems with refugee reception, its policy and implementation, it also acknowledges important positive achievements of Swedish refugee reception and its political-administrative ambitions and framework. The reason that the effects of these positive efforts and achievements haven't materialised in successful integration to a higher degree, is also due to 'external' factors, like exclusion from the labour market, social exclusion through segregation, marginalisation and discrimination, processes of racialisation etc. These kinds of ramifying 'external' factors can only to a limited extent be influenced by local actors alone. The conclusion is that a successful integration cannot be achieved solely through measures within the practical institutional setting of the local refugee reception system itself, but must be underpinned and enforced by a more generalised inclusionary or anti-exclusionary politics, a generally more decided political will and over-all more purposeful measures securing a higher degree of suited implementation.
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2000. , 108 p.
refugees, immigrants, immigration, refugee reception, immigrant policy, immigration policy, racism, integration, implementation, democracy, local government