The Role of Bridging Social Networks in Refugee Settlement: The Case of Exile Communities from the former Yugoslavia in Italy and the Netherlands

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Korac, Maja (2005)
  • Publisher: Nova Science Publishers

The chapter examines how different refugee settlement policies in Italy and the Netherlands affect the process of formation of social networks within and outside a group of compatriots. I explore the social condition of exile communities from the former Yugoslavia and examine how different policy interventions, intentionally and unintentionally, affect micro-level social interactions in these specific settlement contexts. Data for this study were collected during several months of ethnographic fieldwork in Rome (1999-2000) and Amsterdam (2000-2001). The discussion aims to emphasise the connection between specific policy contexts, structural constraints they embody, and the type of human agency they engender. Special emphasis is placed on the examination of the role of ‘bridging social networks’ established outside the refugee group, which seem to facilitate considerably the successful integration of refugees. I suggest that although governments cannot directly affect the formation of bridging social capital, it is possible to develop policies that facilitate it. Without such policies, integration remains plagued by relative social isolation, even when there are employment opportunities and relaxed naturalisation policies.
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