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MIGREL members at the 19th IMISCOE Annual Conference in Oslo 29th of June to 1st of July 2022

(Photo: IMISCOE)

Back at the end of June (2022) six members of the MIGREL research group attended what for many was the first in-person conference since the pandemic started. The 19th IMISCOE Annual Conference "Migration and Time: Temporalities of Mobility, Governance, and Resistance" was held this year in Oslo (Norway) which meant a short trip for us. The IMISCOE conference is at least the largest and most known conference in Migration research in Europe if not the world, so we were thrilled that our papers had been accepted to be presented in the various panels. Some members also had the opportunity to be a chair or discussant in some sessions. Some of the members of the MAVI project also got to organise a panel with paper presentations from members of the team as well as from researchers from Spain and Sweden. Also, two members of the MIGREL research group, Turid Misje and Mateus Schweyher organised and chaired a panel related to their research projects. In addition, this conference allowed us to network and mingle in person with researchers from all around the globe, something we had all missed very much during the pandemic.

Here is an overview of the presentations and the panels (with abstracts) from the various MIGREL members that participated in the conference:

Paper presentation: Participant recruitment to online surveys with Facebook Ads: A comparison of different optimisation and placement strategies from a study of Syrian migrants in Norway

Oleksandr Ryndyk (VID Specialized University); Norma Wong (VID Specialized University)

In the past few years, migration researchers have explored the potential of using Facebook advertisements (Facebook Ads) for recruiting migrants to online surveys. Due to budget constraints, studies have relied on optimisation strategies that maximise link clicks. Although this strategy has proven both most effective (brings in most clicks) and most efficient (gets the clicks at the lowest price), relatively little is known about bias introduced to recruited samples due to Facebook’s algorithms which deliver ads to the most responsive users. This paper presents findings from a study where four unique combinations of optimisation (Daily unique reach vs. Link clicks) and placement (Automatic vs. Manual) strategies have been used on Facebook to recruit respondents from among recently arrived Syrian migrants in Norway. Applying regression and post-stratification weighting techniques to a sample of 723 respondents, this article analyses the bias introduced to the sample during different weeks of the campaign. It finds that in addition to the overall sample’s bias towards more respondents with higher levels of education, across all gender and age groups, the subsample recruited in the period when the ads’ placement was manually restricted to Facebook was skewed toward even more educated respondents. At the same time, the analysis reveals no significant differences in the demographic composition of the subsamples between the Daily unique reach and Link clicks optimisations strategies. The findings offer useful insights for future studies designing advertisements strategies for recruiting migrants with Facebook Ads.

Panel: Time, temporariness, and transnational mobility as justification for the precarious inclusion of EU/EEA citizens in welfare support in Norway’


Turid Misje Turid Misje, PhD candidate, VID Specialized University, Norway,

Mateus Schweyher PhD-fellow, Centre for Diaconia and Professional Practice, VID Specialized University,

Paper presentation: What counts as an emergency situation? Time and the precarious inclusion of homeless EU/EEA citizens in Norwegian public social welfare

Turid Misje, PhD candidate, VID Specialized University, Norway,

The situation of EU/EEA citizens who are homeless when in Norway is characterised by poverty and lack of protection concerning basic needs such as health, food, and housing. Many have no or weak affiliations with the formal labour market, resulting in restricted rights to public welfare services. Drawing on the concept of precarious inclusion (Karlsen, 2021), I suggest however, that rather than being simply excluded from public social welfare, homeless EU/EEA citizens are included in the welfare state but in fragile and insecure ways through provisions directed at safeguarding bodily survival in emergency situations. I understand these limited inclusionary policies and practices as forming part of the Norwegian state’s management of ‘undesired’ migrants.

In this paper I explore the different – often contradictory – roles temporal dimensions play in assessments regarding what constitutes an emergency situation in cases concerning homeless EU/EEA citizens, made by social workers in the public social welfare administration. I focus particularly on the intersection of temporalities and concerns of mobility control, and how homeless EU/EEA citizens ultimately are constructed as a temporary and transnationally mobile population whose welfare rights lies “elsewhere”. The paper’s empirical data draws primarily from 11 interviews with social workers in the public social welfare administration. The interviews took place following almost one year of ethnographic fieldwork, which included accompanying homeless EU/EEA citizens in Oslo as they navigated the limited welfare services available to them.

Paper presentation: Wandering wounds and mnemonic meaning-making: Transnational temporalities of trauma and nostalgia among Syrians in exile

Ingrid Løland, Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, Diaconia and Leadership Studies, VID Specialized University, Norway.

This paper intends to address the interconnection of trauma and nostalgia in a Syrian diaspora context. Little research has been done concerning the prevalence of trauma and nostalgia among Syrians in exile, and how these experiences inform transnational temporalities regarding future aspirations for peace and reconciliation. Previous research shows that mnemonic images of the homeland, of former ways of life as well as of memorable moments, relations and identities, are especially pervasive in Syrian refugee discourses. Crossing the abyss of war, narrative bridges reach back to a paradise lost, embracing times and spaces that share commonalities as well as deep contestations. Also, the same political and ethno-religious tensions that perpetuated the post-revolutionary conflict back in Syria, are to some extent seen to be reproduced in the Syrian diaspora. This calls for new investigations into how Syrian exiles, individually and collectively, navigate historical wounds and sectarian atrocities. It also requires a nuanced look at how Syrians negotiate disputed forms of nostalgia whilst paving the way for new contexts of belonging. Building on Max Silverman’s term ‘palimpsestic memory’, this paper attempts to investigate the hybrid assemblage of memory practices among a heterogeneous Syrian diaspora population. It regards these practices as different transnational temporalities in which trauma and nostalgia simultaneously veer between backward-looking and future-oriented processes. Understanding the entanglement of trauma and nostalgia may foster a more comprehensive understanding of the extent to which Syrian exiles imagine a reconciled future of coexistence in the face of a fragmented past and present.

MAVI Panel: Refugees’ career aspirations and pathways into the labour market: The roles of different actors and opportunity structures

Chair: Norma Wong (PhD) Centre for Intercultural Communication (SIK), VID Specialized University

Discussant: Benedicte Nessa, PhD. Candidate, Centre of Diaconia, Values and Professional Practice, VID Specialized University

Paper 1: Career paths and workplace experiences: Labor market integration of highly skilled refugees in Sweden

Ioanna Blasko, PhD candidate, Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Refugees with a tertiary education face particularly complex career trajectories. On their pathway to the labor market they must often complement their education, translate their diplomas, and take part in various integration initiatives such as internship programs, language classes, and labor market training activities. When they do reach the workplace there may be challenges related to language level, workplace inclusion processes, and differences in workplace culture. This presentation focuses on the career paths of highly skilled refugees and their experiences of employment in Sweden. It explores refugees’ own experiences and aspirations in their career pathways and at the workplace, while also examining the role that integration initiatives play in influencing these experiences. The analysis is conducted using a structure and agency lens, focusing on structural opportunities and limitations that exist for highly skilled refugees on the labor market, as well as how the highly skilled refugees themselves use agency to navigate these structures in order to reach their goals and career aspirations. These issues are explored on the basis of document and text analyses, semi-structured interviews with highly skilled refugees, employers, and representatives of integration initiatives, as well as observations at various integration initiatives and workplaces. Refugee career paths are shown to be multi-faceted. Although refugees exercise agency in their career paths, it is shown that this agency is enabled and constrained by specific structures that they encounter along the way.

Paper 2: A qualitative study on career aspirations and the access to labour market among young refugees and asylum-seekers in Catalonia. Experiences, strategies, and challenges.

Mara Gabrielli, Phd candidate. Faculty of Education, Department of Theories of Education and Social Pedagogy. EMIGRA-CER Migration Research Group, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Jordi Pàmies Rovira, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Department of Theories of Education and Social Pedagogy. EMIGRA Research Group, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB),

From a multi-level approach based on ecological theory, this study provides an in depth understanding of the institutional, contextual and individual factors that foster or hampered the educational pathways and job opportunities of young refugees and asylum-seekers in Catalonia (Spain). We implement a multimodal ethnographic methodology using the photoelicitation interview with the young participants. The images lead participants to connect to their experiences, and the photo-elicitation technique allows these young peoples’ self-knowledge and a critical understanding of their educational process and job experiences. The authors collected qualitative data by observing 12 young participants in the 12-24 age group for 18 months. The empirical data have been triangulated with interviews of family members and 20 professionals from public institutions and NGOs. We present case studies to describe how the experiences, aspirations, and needs of these young people vary and change after forced migration. In the absence of clear State policies for the reception and social inclusion of refugees, municipalities, NGOs, non-state partners, and start-up agencies develop multi-level governance plans interacting dynamically to respond to local needs more sustainably. Findings highlight that the young people’s career aspirations are frustrated by structural and contextual barriers at the macro and meso levels, mainly due to the uncertainty of their legal status and limited resources targeted to their needs. These external factors, therefore, constrain their capacity for agency, and undermine their educational pathways and employment opportunities, resulting in a constant sense of socioeconomic vulnerability.

Paper 3: What do newly arrived refugees see as the most important in their labour market integration process? Thematic analysis of free-text comments from a national online survey in Norway

Norma Wong (PhD) Post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Intercultural Communication (SIK) at VID Specialized University (VID).

Under the Norwegian welfare state, refugee integration policies have a strong focus on labour market performance as a key indicator for successful integration. However, this mono-dimensional approach is not in line with the decades of international scholarship about integration, especially those of forced migrants. Based on Ager and Strang’s (2004, 2008) ten dimensions of integration, in combination with the most recent debates about the wider contexts and opportunity structures that surrounds the integration process, this paper presents empirical evidence from the newly arrived refugees in Norway on their views and experience in the labour market integration process. Drawing from the entries in free text comment section at the end of an online survey targeted at newly arrived refugees in Norway, this study presents an inductive thematic analysis of nearly two hundred entries. The findings show that labour market integration is inter-connected closely with other dimensions of integration, most saliently social connection and language acquisition. In addition, the comments also reveal that despite the comprehensiveness of the welfare state and the integration programme, there are structural issues concerning the design and implementation of measures, such that crucial needs are not heeded, and the newly arrived are often left demotivated and frustrated in their struggle to access the labour market.

Paper 4: Adjusting aspirations and motivations. Welfare worker’s bureaucrats to “activate” newly arrived refugees and assist them in entering the Norwegian labour market

Zubia Willmann-Robleda (PhD), Researcher at Centre for Intercultural Communication (SIK), VID Specialized University, (Stavanger) Norway.

Memory Jayne Tembo-Pankuku (PhD), Associate Professor, Programme Area- Culture and Religion, Faculty of Theology, Diaconia and Leadership Studies, VID Specialized University, (Stavanger) Norway.

In Norway, the migration discourse, both among politicians and in academia, is largely linked to the welfare state and the ambition of having as many people as possible contributing to its sustainability through participation in the labour market. Norway differentiates itself from other countries in Europe with its full-time compulsory two-year introductory programme, an activation policy is meant to qualify newly arrived immigrants (mostly forced migrants) for further education or work. Activation policies are a result of a major global development in the welfare state and are meant to responsibilise the welfare clients and make them work on their own employability. This article focuses on the welfare bureaucrats that are responsible for supervising the immigrants during this programme. The main role that these welfare workers have is to guide the immigrants through the qualification programme they are partaking in by giving them information and counselling to guide them in what they consider “the right direction” to get them to be active in the labour market. In particular, we ask: what strategies do welfare bureaucrats use to “activate” newly arrived immigrants and assist them in entering the Norwegian labour market? The data consists of ten semi-structured interviews with welfare bureaucrats in different municipalities in the Southwestern region of Rogaland, Norway. In the analysis we find that these welfare bureaucrats use primarily three different strategies to “activate” newly arrived immigrants: reality orientation, motivation work and warnings. Through these strategies what the welfare bureaucrats seek to achieve is to re-shape and adjust immigrants’ aspirations and motivations for labour market participation.

Paper presentation: The precarious inclusion of homeless EU migrants in Norwegian public social welfare: Moral bordering and social workers’ dilemmas

Turid Misje, PhD candidate, VID Specialized University, Norway,

This article discusses public social welfare provision to homeless EU migrants in Norway. Most of these migrants have no or weak affiliations with the formal labour market, resulting in restricted rights to public social assistance. Drawing on the concept of precarious inclusion, I suggest that rather than being simply excluded from public social welfare, homeless EU migrants are included in the welfare state but in fragile and insecure ways through provisions directed at safeguarding bodily survival. I understand these limited inclusionary policies and practices as forming part of the Norwegian state’s management of ‘undesired’ migrants. Building on interviews with social workers in the public social welfare administration, i.e. street level bureaucrats, I reflect on how assessments of cases involving homeless EU migrants signal hierarchical conceptions and differentiation of human worth within Norway’s borders and how territorial belonging emerges as a prerequisite for ‘deservingness’ in social workers’ accounts.

Paper presentation: Temporary on paper permanent in practice? Making temporary migrants through administrative practices – EU/EEA citizens and the D-nummer

Mateus Schweyher, PhD-fellow, Centre for Diaconia and Professional Practice, VID Specialized University,

When moving to Norway, EU/EEA citizens are, as Norwegians at birth, assigned a unique identification number, the so-called Fødselsnummer, officially designating them residents of Norway. The number functions as key to welfare support and various public and private spaces and services. However, to be assigned a Fødselsnummer, EU/EEA citizens must ‘intend’ to stay in Norway for at least six months and document this with a contract guaranteeing them employment for such a period. Those who cannot produce such a contract are assigned a D-nummer, an identification number which officially designates the holder a temporary migrant and is associated with less rights to welfare services and limited access to various public and private spaces and services. Roughly a third of all EU /EEA citizens from eastern Europe working in Norway are registered with a D-nummer (statistics Norway 2021). Based on ethnographic research with Polish migrants and NGO social workers, this paper shows how the practice traps migrants working in precarious sections of the labor market in a ‘temporally thick border’ (Axelsson 2017) as they live for years registered with a D-nummer, unable to switch to a Fødselsnummer. The bureaucratic construction of precarious EU workers as ‘temporary’ in Norway leads to ‘precarious inclusion’ (Karlsen 2021) into the welfare system and wider society, thus contradicting fundamental principles of EU/EEA freedom of movement and equal treatment, and adding additional layers of conditionality to EU citizenship.

1 Comment

nick smith
nick smith
Oct 19, 2023

good post

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