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.

Intergration in Multi-ethnic and Multi-cultural Societies


Integration as a concept has more often been collated with the concepts of assimilation and interculturalism to mean one and the same thing. The rational difference between the two concepts rests on country's policies on multiculturalism and how multiculturalism is perceived within a particular country.

In multiethnic societies like Kenya integration is often viewed as a mutual coexistence between different ethnic groups that have lived side by side for a long period of time-multiculturalism becomes demographic. In these settings just like it had initially been in countries like Sweden in 1975 and Canada in 1971, integration is elite driven and takes the top-down approach. However, I would hazard to say that although integration is construed as inclusion, equal access and equal life chances, policy makers have continued to emphasize on structural and social dimensions while avoiding the emotive cultural dimensions.

Integration policies in Europe and other countries that host refugees and immigrants, except for a few, have continued to focus on new comers as objects of integration with blithe disregard of natives. In this regard, piecemeal or selective application of integration policies has made the term multiculturalism to manifest itself as a dangerous concept in Europe with fears of creating separate communities. I would underscore that measuring integration should, therefore, shift from emphasis on immigrants to a combination of both migrants and natives with regards to equal rights and life chances.

Canada's strong belief in recognition and accommodation of refugees and immigrants-one that is anchored on public-private partnerships- stands out among other European countries like Germany where multiculturalism was seen as a failure.

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