Short reports from the annual conference 2015 in Geneva

03 September 2014

Session #13; Panel: Obstacles to Immigrants’ Successful Labour Market Integration

Chair: Flavia Fossati

Labour market integration of immigrants heavily impacts on their successful social and economic integration. The problem is that immigrants are confronted with manifold and very diverse obstacles when trying to access the labour market.

In this session we explored some of the obstacles that immigrants may face in particular in terms of discrimination and/or institutional regulations. In more detail, two papers highlighted the disadvantages for particular groups of immigrants stemming from discriminatory practices both by employers and social workers. A third paper discussed the disadvantages in terms of access to social services (childcare facilities). The last paper addressed disadvantaged in terms of skills mismatch and skills underutilisation and their consequences.

The panel’s conclusion is that more effort is needed to understand the multidimensionality of disadvantages that immigrants face. Future research should in particular try to combine the different sources of disadvantages developing a comprehensive analytical and theoretical of disadvantage.

Session # 21; Panel: Public opinion and (media) representations of ‘the other’

Chairs: Anders Hellström and Cristian Norocel

There are terrorist attacks against e.g. cartoonists in Paris, mass demonstrations against Islam in several German cities and almost a re-election in Sweden due to the behavior of the anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats (SD). ‘The other’ is in our face. And the population is divided. While ethnic and demographic diversification are welcomed by some, there is a growing concern about the effects of immigration on the economy and on welfare. Beside a preoccupation that relates to what is seen as the cultural impact of migration on national identity.

The panel conveyed papers that deal with the consequences of ever-changing socio-economic circumstances and recent dramatic events in Europe in e.g. terms of changing patterns of party-political preferences and/or people’s attitudes towards immigration and the welfare state. It dealt with the tight connection between Public opinion and representation in e.g. the media in the area of migration.

Session #27; Panel: Monitoring for mainstreaming integration policies: Local contexts under the microscope

Chair: Marina D’Odorico

The main objective of the debate was to deepen the different aspects of migrants’ integration governance in Europe by considering the outcomes of the KING project. Indeed, while the First Common Basic Principle states that Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States, the picture offered by the study is different because migrants are often asked to do most of the efforts. The discussants’ presentations permitted focusing the attention on some identified strategies for supporting integration: non-discrimination, mainstreaming and monitoring. The debate concerned also the way to implement those strategies by taking into account their inter-correlation.

Session #29; Paper Session: Patterns of Integration

Chair: Johanna Probst

The paper session “patterns of integration” included four papers. Antonella Ceccagno started by a rich presentation on the past and current role of Chinese migrants in the Italian fashion industry. Describing working conditions in Chinese contracting workshops, she theorized the reconfiguration of the productive space and discussed it in the context of global changes in labor regimes. Silvia Cavasola offered insights into her PhD thesis on TCNs perceptions of belonging along the question of naturalization, still in the Italian context. She compared naturalized and non-naturalized migrants and showed interesting similarities and differences between the two groups, especially with regard to discrimination issues. Lucia Jardon subsequently switched to the Swiss context: based on first results of her PhD work, she discussed the diffusion of immigrant integration policies in a federal system. The results of her network analysis pointed to surprising levels and patterns of inter-cantonal communication in this policy area. Finally, Oliver Gruber made another contribution to the discussion on migrant integration policies, this time in a cross-European comparison. Referring to empirical data produced by the INEX research group, he impressively showed changes in the attribution of migrant integration policy competences to various state authorities and depicted a salient east-west divide in this matter.

Session #36; Panel: Voluntary Return and Psychosocial Wellbeing

Chair: Zana Vathi; Discussant: Russell King

Two sessions were organized under the broad topic of return migration and psychosocial wellbeing. The first session investigated migrants’ psychosocial wellbeing in the context of ‘voluntary’ returns, whilst the papers in second session looked at the forms, meaning of and effects of forced returns. Papers in both sessions critically examined migrants’ experiences along the voluntary-forced continuum. Major concepts related to return such as preparedness were employed in the analysis; however, the context post-return and the ability to engage in post-return mobilities were found to significantly affect migrants’ wellbeing. Several factors and dynamics at play in the context of return make psychosocial wellbeing as a political, socio-cultural and circumstantial construct. Papers showed the potential to contribute to the further elaboration of psychosocial wellbeing as a concept, considering the latter as focus of empirical investigation.

Session #40; Panel: Friction-less and Root-less Mobilities? Opportunities, Barriers and Intimacies in Expatriate Migration

Chairs: Flavia Cangià and Déborah Levitan; Discussant: Marc Schmidlin

The panel aimed at challenging common representations of “expatriates” (e.g., corporate managers, diplomats, academics), mostly based on the idea of a friction-less and root-less form of migration. It discussed the different opportunities and possible constraints faced by mobile professionals and their families, by focusing on the role of family and intimate relationships, as well as of different categorical dimensions in the making of expatriates’ identities, lives and trajectories. More specifically, by drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, the contributors explored the impact of immigration legal frameworks and race on the experience of Colombian and Puerto Rican Computer Engineers in the US; the experience of migration in Switzerland for different expat family members, and possible psychological implications of mobility; gendered couple and family arrangements during the transnational mobility of academics; the international mobility of highly skilled professionals in the Swedish medical field.

Session #55; Panel: The context of discrimination

Chair: Arnfinn H. Midtbøen; Discussants: Rosita Fibbi and Arnfinn H. Midtbøen

Previous research has convincingly documented that discrimination is an important obstacle to the integration of immigrants and their descendants, for example in terms of access to the labour market. However, our knowledge of the different processes and mechanisms of discrimination occurring in different parts of the labour market and in different national contexts is still limited. In this workshop, we put focus on contextual variation in the prevalence of discrimination, comparing different groups, different employment conditions, different occupational contexts, and different national contexts. Three papers were presented: ‘Discrimination, Identities and Racial Boundaries in France’, by Patrick Simon; ‘The injuries of success: Second generation high achievers and experiences of discrimination on the German labour market’, by Christine Lang, Andreas Pott and Jens Schneider; and finally ‘Entrepreneurship and attitudes toward equal opportunities for foreign and Swiss citizens’, by Marco Pecararo.

Session #71; Panel: Diversity and social cohesion: new approaches in studies of ethnic diversity

Chair:Aneta Piekut; Discussant:Agata Górny


  1. Josef Kohlbacher*, Ursula Reeger & Philipp Schnell
  2. James Laurence
  3. Aneta Piekut* & Gill Valentine

This research panel brought together recent works investigating the effects of ethnic diversity on social cohesion in various European countries. The session specifically focused on the attitudinal dimension of social cohesion. All three papers explored how an increase in social exposure to minority ethnic groups impacts attitudes toward them. Presented papers indicated possible new directions for diversity studies in terms of conceptual approaches and applied methods. These included an analysis of different forms of contact between minority and majority groups as well as  attitudes of minority ethnic groups (paper 1), an intersection of exposure to ethnic diversity and the level of ethnic segregation (paper 2) and using geo-demographic indicators of social diversity instead of individual diversity indicators (paper 3).

Session #75; Paper Session: Health

Chair: Flavia Fossati

The question addressed in this paper session was: How can different health outcomes between immigrants and natives explained? The two papers presented addressed this question both from the individual level perspective and from a country level approach. Thereby was shown that whilst immigrants – even after controlling for socio-economic background variables – do worse than natives in terms of self-reported health and depression the extent of the differences varies between countries. One insight was that this difference seems to be systematically related to the type of integration regime (measured by means of the MIPEX index). Moreover, the authors found that health problems were strongly related to the national origin of immigrants, and in particular by gender. In fact, women were shown to be more prone to have health problems than male immigrants.

Session #85; Panel: Implications of Long-Term Labour Migration from Central and Eastern European EU-Countries in Diverse European Urban Regions

(organized by Ursula Reeger, chaired by Maria Luzia Enengel and Mark van Ostaijen)

Since the latest EU enlargements, intra-EU mobility from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to Western European has increased considerably. Although often not being targeted by integration measures, CEE migration and its social and other consequences are becoming increasingly manifest in the areas of labour, housing, language etc. Moreover, the individual migration projects differ in terms of socio-economic inclusion in the host society and in their time frame and thus in their implications in receiving urban regions. Based on the project IMAGINATION (, panelists zoomed into urban implications of different types of long-term labour migration from CEE. Specifically, multiple dependencies caused by contractual chains in the Netherlands and the issue of blurred lines between formal and informal employment in Sweden were discussed. Moreover, the patterns of de-qualification were elaborated for the Austrian and the Turkish case. Finally, the panel discussion focused on potential policy responses as well as a positioning to theories on governance of EU-migration.

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