Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

Chapters 3 › Unit 3: What does 'integration' mean to you? View instructions Hide instructions

What does 'integration' mean to you?

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Tell us: What does 'integration' mean to you?

In this chapter, we've provided you with a fundamental understanding of the various facets of integration and how the debate and approaches vary in Europe and Canada. While it's important to understand how governments manage (or don't manage) this process, integration is something that doesn't start and stop with policy. That's why we have included views from those working in the field, either supporting or circumventing integration policy, as well as voices from the public to get a taste for how people actually understand this term and what ideal they wish for in their societies.

Now, the 'Us' & 'Them' course community wants to hear from you:

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:

  • What do you think of Prof. Dr. Naika Foroutan's four fields of integration (structural, social, cultural, identificative), and which do you feel are emphasized most in your society?
  • Would you prefer to see integration as a top-down, bottom-up, or another directional process?
  • What ways do your societies and governments support or not support integration and multiculturalism (e.g. through resources like integration courses or symbolically through representation)?
  • Who in your societies needs integrating, from your point of view? Does integration stop with refugees and immigrants?
  • How do you think we can best measure integration? What counts most (e.g. numbers, personal encounters, building networks)?
  • Where do you think Europe is headed when it comes to integration? Do you think Europe can learn something from the Canadian example?

Now what?
Click 'Start in Journal', and fill out the entry. How you do this is up to you: You can use just words, or add pictures or links to articles or videos to highlight your point!

Is this journal assignment required?
No! Nothing in our course is 'required', and there are no grades, but we encourage you to reflect on these topics and share if you feel comfortable, so that others in the course can benefit from your experiences.

Different kinds of integration


I thought Dr. Foroutan's "four fields" concept was really interesting, and definitely applicable to a lot of countries. It's tough to say which one is applied more where I currently live: I'm in Spain, and I think the country is generally more focused on structural integration; on the other hand, I live Barcelona, which is one of the most multicultural, ethnically varied cities in the whole country. Local policies seem more
focused on cultural and (maybe) social integration.
I'm sure I'm not the only one, but Canada's integration approach seems the best one to me. Still, I think it's vital that each country comes up with an approach that works best for their own society: the american "laissez faire" way of integration has its flaws, but it seems to have succeeded in creating a so-called "melting pot" that makes the country so vital and innovative. The European case is understandable considering each country's particular views on what it means to be a citizen, but I'd argue that it's not quite working as well as it should. In this case, I think they could definitely benefit from adapting some of Canada's methods, particularly in working more with the private sector and, especially, in including immigrants themselves in the process. That would soften this idea of "you need to become like us" they seem to have.


Hello Leandro, thanks for your comments. Living in Berlin, I can relate to what you say about the integration debate differing in the big city context compared to other parts of the country. What does Barcelona emphasize with integration in your opinion, if not cultural identity? I know there aren't as many refugees there but it certainly is an international city.

over 1 year ago

HI Sophia! You are right, there is definitely a big difference between big cities and other parts of the country, particularly rural areas. In the case of Barcelona, however, what I meant was that there seems to be a difference in policy: Catalunya has some control/influence over integration and immigration, and it seems that the cultural aspect is pretty strong, if only because of its particular status (support of the Catalan language, independence, etc).
I actually just finished a first level of Catalan classes, and it had a great balance between being very open and welcome and really trying to get you to understand what it meant to be Catalan. The city of Barcelona itself is great at celebrating its diversity while also being in step with Catalunya's language/cultural policies, so I think overall, it's quite successful.

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