Article Comparison

The first article I read, “Integration and How We Facilitate it: A Comparative Study of Settlement Experiences of Refugees in Italy and the Netherlands”[1], looked at the impact of the government’s approach to long-term refugee integration and the “success” and integration as defined by the refugee(s). Korac does this through a small-n, neo-positivist approach. She has two cases (Italy’s and Netherlands’ integration policies, respectively) and she analyses these two cases. Then, using the “Chicago school tradition…[in terms of] ethnographic research and case study”[2], Korac used extensive interviews with refugees in the two different nations to analyze and critically engage with the different integration models. Korac used refugee interviews, government and NGO data, an informal survey, and previous writings on the topic to inform her research and interaction with her research and the refugees.

The second article, “State Assisted Integration: Refugee Integration Policies in Scandinavian Welfare States: the Swedish and Norwegian Experience”[3], looked at how two nations with similar political trajectories facing similar ambivalences in their refugee integration policies[4] have different “changes, disparities, and ambiguities”[5] in their governmental refugee integration programs. Moreover, they looked at how can we understand the “limitations of extensive state assisted integration measures”[6]. The authors did a comparative analysis of these two nations through a small-n, neo-positivist lens. Valenta and Bunar used documental and archival findings to inform their research.

There are a few points of overlap between the two articles since they are dealing with different cases and questions. However, after reading the first article one may draw the conclusion that the high level of government support in the integration process, which accompanies the majority of the European “welfare” states, can leave refugees ill-prepared to join the workforce or even society at large and therefore refugees will remain separated from society as a whole[7]. This is not the same conclusion that the reader draws from the Valenta and Bunar article, they do not suggest that the welfare states they analyzed have “failed” regarding integration. Valenta and Bunar do concede, however, that there are improvements to be made to the Norwegian and Swedish integration processes since housing and training help facilitate a successful integration to a point and a larger discussion “relating to the ambitions and focus of integration policies”[8] is needed. Valenta and Bunar also cited Korac’s article in their article which I found amusing.

One way these articles can help inform my research is giving me more questions, nations, and integration programs to investigate further to help better inform my research. For example, have any new tactics been developed to address the issues raised in the articles since the publication of these articles? What new problems have come up with the new wave of immigration into Europe? Another helpful aspect of these articles is that the “success” of these nations’ overall programs and takes on the refugee issue can also be used to compare against other nations and the “success” of their refugee integration programs.



[1] Korac, Maja. “Integration and How We Facilitate it: A Comparative Study of Settlement Experiences of Refugees in Italy and the Netherlands”. Sociology, Vol. 37 Issue 1, 2003. Pp. 1-26. DOI 10.1177/0038038503037001387

[2] Ibid, 4

[3] Valenta, Marko and Bunar, Nihad. “State Assisted Integration: Refugee Integration Policies in Scandinavian Welfare States: the Swedish and Norwegian Experience”. Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 23 Issue 4, 2010. Pp. 463-483. DOI 10.1093/jrs/feq028

[4] Ibid, 479.

[5] Ibid, 463.

[6] Ibid, 463.

[7] Korac, 19.

[8] Valenta and Bunar, 479.

2 thoughts on “Article Comparison”

  1. Hi Phoebe,

    I also find it amusing that while the two articles seemingly have different analytical claims, one still cites the other. I think this indicates that you have found an area thick with scholarly conversation which in turn will help guide your research. Also, the fact that both of these research papers seek to explain a similar slice of social reality via a neo-positivist approach helps inform the answer we should all be asking ourselves at this stage : “how do other researchers approach similar puzzles to mine?” Not that this should constrain you, but it is a point worth mentioning. While Korac uses ethnographical data and interviewed refugees themselves, Valenta and Bunar relied on archives and various documents. In terms of your own project, if you end up choosing a small-n neo-positivist approach, I would posit that mimicking Korac’s ethnographical research in your area of interest may be too ambitious. I think that Valenta’s and Bunar’s paper is a great example of how researchers can conduct an equally valid study on refugee policies without having to collect field data. Also, I think that looking at the way both of these papers operationalized their variables might help you brainstorm about your own dependent and independent variables. How do these researchers define ‘success’, are their definitions similar? Would you consider borrowing their definitions, or would you look to enhance them? I think that the direction you are heading is worthwhile and extremely relevant today, you will have a much easier time answering that “so what?” question that Booth suggests we ask ourselves[1]. Good luck!

    [1] Wayne C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, 4th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

  2. Overall a very good job here Phoebe. Both of these articles are clearly relevant to your research, and you’ve done a good job identifying the main claims and the methodological approach that each article takes. As you think about methodology (and as you read additional pieces of scholarship) it would be good to go into a bit more detail, using some specific terms, to help further unpack these methodologies. In the cases of neopositivist research, for example, you should note what the DV is along with the key IV(s) and hypotheses tested (this helps further contextualize the main claims and the different explanations that scholars offer for similar puzzles). Keep reading and researching with an eye to these things!

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