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Civic Dialogues about the Integration of Immigrants in Hungary Corvinus University of Budapest György Lengyel Lilla Tóth Borbála Göncz European Migration.

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Presentation on theme: "Civic Dialogues about the Integration of Immigrants in Hungary Corvinus University of Budapest György Lengyel Lilla Tóth Borbála Göncz European Migration."— Presentation transcript:

1 Civic Dialogues about the Integration of Immigrants in Hungary Corvinus University of Budapest György Lengyel Lilla Tóth Borbála Göncz European Migration Network – national meeting Budapest, 8th December 2011

2 About the Research Funded by the European Integration Fund Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy Phases of the research (2009): 1.Representative survey (n=1009) and focus group discussions - How immigrants are perceived by the host society? 2.In-depth interviews - Immigrants’ integration as seen by themselves and experts 3.Civic discussions – Recommendations of the members of the host society and immigrants in the subjects of immigrants’ integration 4.Follow-up phase (2011) - Evaluation of the recommendations by experts

3 Structure of the Presentation About the Civic Discussions How immigrants are perceived by the host society? Immigrants’ integration as seen by themselves and experts Recommendations of the Civic discussions Evaluation of the recommendations by experts

4 About the Civic Discussion

5 What is a Citizen’s Jury? Well-informed citizen’s participation to political decision making process (12-20 persons) Process of a jury with the inclusion of experts Deliberation on a (local or national) problem/ topic affecting the community Choice between alternatives political participation research education

6 Civic Discussions on Immigrants’ Integration Discussion about the integration of immigrants, recommendation for the political decision makers »Immigrants: foreign citizens legally arriving from a third country (non-EU) with the aim of permanently residing in Hungary Innovative application of the method - two parallel panels: host society members and immigrants (14-15 participants) Changes in attitudes of the host society members Inclusion of a „hidden” group into public policy decision making Possibility of comparison of the two panels

7 How immigrants are perceived by the host society? 1. Representative survey: June 2009, N= Focus group discussions (FGDs): Budapest, 24th August 2009 Kaposvár, 31st August 2009

8 Location of the issue of migration „How do you weight the following social problems waiting for solution” (average, 0-10)

9 Comparing Hungarian Romas’ and Immigrants’ Integration (FGDs) Immigration is perceived as a less important problem compared to corruption, tax evasion, economic crisis and Roma integration The failure of Roma integration seemed to generate far more emotions and negative stereotypes paired with a feeling of guilt for the focus groups participants Romas are regarded as „bad immigrants”

10 The identification of immigrants (FGDs) Country of origins and ethnic groups (mentioned randomly): Transylvania (Hungarians, Romanians), the Chinese, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afganistan, the Serbs, England, Ireland, Romani, the Arab counries, Vietnam, The Netherlands, Cuba, Japan The two main categories based on distinction according to attributed motivation of staying in Hungary: –Who are committed and identified at heart with Hungarians (living in Hungary) and are ready to share the fortune of majority –Who behave in instrumental, pragmatic way and when the situation in Hungary is not favourable will migrate onward

11 Personal experiences (FGDs) With the Chinese – ambivalent judgement (”Duracell Bunnies”, exploiters) With the Hungarians (Hungarian minority abroad especially in Romania) – they have a higher quality Hungarianness and not necessarily welcomed assertiveness based on that Encounter with immigrants It is/might be an opportunity to learn from them Although there exists a collective representation of immigration, it remained unreflected so far

12 Knowledge and opinion : the number of immigrants How many foreigners live in Hungary? Decrease or increase the number of immigrants? According to CSO ( ) foreigners did live in Hungary

13 Opinions about migrants

14 The benefits and drawbacks of immigration (FGDs) Positive impact: Favourable behaviourial patterns can be learnt (e.g. respect for authority, diligence, effort, helpfulness, discipline), it can increase the general openness of host society towards diversity (even towards different ingroup members), manpower, contribution/tax payers, a means against population decrease (from ingroup in cultural sense) Negative impact: They steal away jobs, lower wages, ruin the Hungarian economy, they are exploiters (the Chinese and the Koreans) and represent unwanted, unpleasant competitors

15 Attitudes toward migrants of different nationalities „How much would you agree if the Hungarian authorities gave a residence permit to a person with a clean record having a job from…”

16 The openness of the Hungarian society According to the participants of the FGDs: There is no communication between immigrants and the host society and nobody seems to initiate it The openness and acceptance is based on common personal experiences and it is possible only for the next generation because they grow up and are educated together (practice supporting the idea of assimilation) The openness towards certain immigrants groups is influenced and shaped by cultural and ideological fashion (the demand and supply in the spiritual, ideological, philosophical market)

17 Immigrants’ integration as seen by themselves and experts Results of in-depth interviews 1.Experts: 13 interviews from the field of law, employment, economy and education 2.Immigrants: 17 half-structured narrative interviews

18 The results of the expert interviews Hungary is not an attractive place for the immigrants (not a target country) Few immigrants arrive, not a major problem, not an important topic in the public discourse Despite the above, xenophobia is serious in Hungary The most important elements of integration: Hungarian education background and wide network Civil organizations and educational institutions are the most sucessful in supporting integration Problems: Lack of consistent national migration strategy, therefore the institutions cannot work in a concerted way Lack of elaborated policy creates uncertainty and sometimes arbitrary administration More cooperation and discussion is needed with a clear political position taken up in the case of immigration

19 Structural integration of immigrants they are forced to manoeuvre to get official papers and permissions; mediators exploiting the situation; diasporas -while support the individual- are also an obstacle to integration into the host society In isolated situation: out of work, out of school - getting good language command is hard, there is no organized system for teaching Hungarian as a foreign language for adults The labour market is often segmented (migrants work together and are not in contact with Hungarians)

20 Cultural and social integration of immigrants Cultural integration The integration process can often get stuck because of the language isolation Women staying home in the household Multinational companies where working language is English Social integration Mixed marriages are not guarantee Overformality at workplaces Education: open and bridge-builder Neighbourhood, the immediate space: very open

21 Mongolian girl, 23, has been living here for 15 years „ Actually both can be called ‘home’ now. However Mongolia will be more homelike. It is more home, or I don’t even know. Whatever annoying or disturbing things are there it is easier to adjust there. Say, in appearance or speech or habitus…, No that’s not true, it is easier (concerning habitus) here, but I may go there and say ‘Gosh!’, no way! But I think yes, I feel Mongolia more home just like Hungary, but that one as well.”

22 Serbian man, has been living here for 15 years „They were very arrogant, they behaved as if they had been patronizing me. Yet I don’t believe that I live my life in Hungary. I can’t say that a sole Hungarian would’ve helped me or would’ve given me a hand. I acquainted with couple of people at my workplace at the time being in the studio, but I can say that they behaved in a very cold manner towards me. They regarded foreigners like vagrants. They might have communicated with the English or Swedish but we Serbians were regarded as second class citizens.”

23 Civic Discussions about immigrants’ integration

24 The Theme and Process of the Discussions The topics discussed: The integration of the immigrants on the labour market Integration from an administrative perspective – administration and legal issues Cultural integration – education The way it worked: Providing background information The event (October 2-4, 2009): Day 1: Identification of the problems, meeting with experts, questions & answers, re-thinking the problems Day 2: Elaboration of recommendations

25 About the Panel of the Host Society (15 persons)  Is it possible to discuss the subject independently from the other problems of Hungarian society?  Familiarity with the topic of education, while the labour market and legal perspectives are more difficult to discuss  Typical immigrant: the Chinese  Integration of immigrants of Hungarian ethnic origin is not perceived as problematic  The general lack of information about the subject is seen as an important problem  To learn the Hungarian language is perceived to be the main element of integration

26 About the Panel of Immigrants (14 persons) Heterogeneous group selected based on the composition of immigrants in Hungary 14 participants: 8 European, 3 Asian, 1 North American, 1 South American and 1 African Both Hungarian and non-Hungarian ethnic origins Different migration backgrounds and histories Question: group boundaries according to cultural differences

27 About the Recommendations (1) Immigrants of Hungarian origin vs. „Chinese” people Dominance of the topic of education Lack of information and the contacts between different cultures Importance of the language

28 About the Recommendations (2) Similarities between the 2 panels: The importance of the knowledge of the language The role of education should be strengthened: e.g. multicultural classes There was a need to get to know the opinion of the other panel The expressed need to use the method in other areas Differences: More recommendations in the immigrant group (more detailed recommendations – 13 vs. 44) Some topics (e.g. employment, legal issues) came up only among the immigrants

29 Evaluation of the Recommendations 2011: 4 experts (non-profit sector, Ministry of Interior Affairs, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of Immigration and Nationality) Divergent opinions: evaluation of immigrants’ integration in principle vs. legal context Who is the target of the recommendations? Who would be in charge for implementation? Low number of immigrants from third countries makes difficult the implementation of certain recommendations Overall: recommendations are important and useful. Further dissemination is important!

30 Evaluation of the Recommendations - administration and legal issues Simplification of legal rules is not possible, but can be aided by suitable communication Non-profit organizations are already included at the development of new laws concerning immigration – perception of the efficiency of the consultation process is divergent Several recommendations have already been realized, others are unaccomplishable (e.g.: online administration) The monopoly of the National Office for Translation and Attestation should be ceased >> several experts agreed Remuneration of administrators based on their performance is not feasible, personal administration is problematic

31 Evaluation of the Recommendations - education Per head quota after all children in public education >> unanimous agreement Raising awareness in the frame of civic knowledge and society class at school is perceived to be a good idea Recognition of foreign diplomas is complex and should be handled together with the claims of Hungarian citizens Fostering language skills of immigrants is important, although there is no agreement on the way to achieve this Intercultural training of teachers, policemen and other administrators is important (with existing examples!), however, personal experiences remain the main defining factor

32 Evaluation of the Recommendations - labour market A web page with companies willing to employ immigrants is unanimously rejected Reducing administrational burdens: depends on EU regulation

33 Thank you for your attention!


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