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Talking about Integration: The Voices of Syrian Refugees Taking Part in Introduction Programmes for Integration into Swedish Society

Journal article
Authors Andrea Spehar
Gregg Bucken-Knapp
Published in International migration
Volume 57
Issue 2
ISSN 0020-7985
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Public Administration
School of Global Studies
Language en
Keywords Governance, migrant voices, integration, Sweden
Subject categories Public Administration Studies


The significant increase in the number of refugees entering the European Union and the low employment rates among them remain pressing issues across Europe. While previous research has mainly focused on refugee integration prospects from the policymakers’ point of view, we shift the analytical focus to how refugees perceive the introduction programme experience, examining the case of Syrian refugees to Sweden. Drawing upon semi-structured interviews with Syrian refugees, our results suggest that the quality of language training, the complexity of the validation process for educational qualifications and the lengthy administrative procedures are perceived as important barriers hindering the access of refugees to the Swedish labour market. These barriers are differently perceived, especially by those with differing levels of education. This highlights the utility of an intersectional approach, and the continued need to explore the diversity of migrant experiences when assessing integration policies and programmes.

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