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Methodology

The EU-MIA project is built on cooperation with local actors aimed at documenting promising practices in integration, to be used in developing a training initiative addressing local practitioners (Migration and Integration Academy). The project is structured in three phases:

 

  1. Background research, to create a repertoire of promising practices in the field of integration at city and neighbourhood level and selection of 10 Functioning Practices from throughout the European Union
  2. Fieldwork missions in the cities where the selected Functioning Practices are located, based on in-depth interviews with local stakeholders and the production of short videos
  3. Development of a cooperative learning kit based on the research component of this project which forms the basis of the Migrant Integration Academy.

A Conceptual and Methodological Discussion Paper has been prepared, aimed at setting out the theoretical and methodological considerations that inform our detailed methodology and the current policy context in which we undertake the research. To download the paper, please [click here].

 

Definition of integration

Different actors define integration in different ways and develop policies and measures pursuing different goals. Therefore, from a policy analysis perspective the meaning of integration is an object of investigation rather than an a priori assumption. We therefore avoid any normative perspective to focus our on what actually happens on the ground, i.e. on how policymakers perceive and frame integration policies. For the purposes of this project, then, we define integration loosely as the dynamic, multi-actor process of mutual engagement that facilitates effective participation by all members of a diverse society in the economic, political, social and cultural life, and fosters a shared and inclusive sense of belonging.

 

Policy and economic context

The above definition is consistent with the EU approach, especially as stated in the Common Basic Principles (CBPs) on Immigrant Integration, and at the ministerial conference on integration at Vichy in 2008. However, at EU level these ideas tend not to feature in legislation but rather in soft policy, i.e. non-legally binding or enforceable instruments and networks.

In 2009, with the launch of the Stockholm Programme, two themes have received renewed attention and priority in European integration policy, which are central to the aims of the EU-MIA project: localisation (i.e. a stronger recognition of the importance and competence of sub-national governance in facilitating the processes of integration) and mainstreaming (i.e. a shift of integration policy away from a discrete, specialist, migrant-targeted approach and towards using mainstream policy instruments to achieve integration outcomes).

However, these two welcome steps have occurred in a context of economic crisis and generalised fiscal austerity. Hence, the growing recognition of the importance of local and regional level activity for integration has not resulted in growing budgets for local and regional work.

 

Definition and analysis of Functioning Practices

We do not look for perfect models of integration policy which can be adopted wholesale across different city contexts, but we believe there is a wealth of effective activity being carried on by cities, in partnership with civil society, across Europe. Starting from this assumption, we define Functioning Practices not as the best practices on integration in Europe but as practices relating “to successful initiatives or model projects that make an outstanding, sustainable, and innovative contribution to the issue at hand”.

In order to better support learning processes, EU-MIA analysis of Functioning Practices takes into account not only policy outcomes, but also policy-making processes. This approach should allow us:

  • to go beyond the general statement that context matters and to understand which context features actually matter in each investigated investigate practice;
  • to identify assets and obstacles, achievements and failures, successful and problematic aspects of investigated measures given that failures are part of the knowledge that could be transferred.

 

Selection of Functioning Practices

The process of case selection in the EU-MIA project is articulated into two main stages:

  1. the production of a long list based on pre-requisite criteria;
  2. the scrutiny of this long list based on qualifying criteria to ensure a shortlist of ten Functioning Practices to be investigated through field missions.

Concerning the first stage, the main tools employed to build the long list have been:

  • literature review and web browsing;
  • consultation of experts and city networks;
  • nominations (including a majority of self-nominations) by local stakeholders through a Call for practices addressing stakeholders.

The criteria for selection of local integration Functioning Practices can be distinguished into two broad categories.

1. Pre-requisites (to qualify for the longlist):

a. Measures in any fields which have clear goals in terms of integration of people with a migrant background, be they migrant-focused or not
b. Measures carried out at local level
c. Measures involving public authorities
d. Live actions or recently closed actions, i.e. on-going or ended no more than two years ago, and consolidated measures with at least two years implementation life
e. Measures belonging to a variety of policy fields

 

2. Qualifying features (to be included in the shortlist):

a. Degree of innovation.
b. Degree of success, meant as achievement of the policy objectives.
c. Degree of economic and financial sustainability.
d. Degree of transferability.

Finally, we have selected policies representing different policy sectors in order to build a viable and useful training initiative addressing practitioners coming from different fields.

This project is implemented with financial support from the European Union.

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