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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Lives in limbo: Migrant integration and rural governance in Sweden

Arora-Jonsson, Seema; Larsson, Oscar


Two long-term trends characterized the response to the influx of asylum seekers in rural Sweden in 2015. First, current integration policies with an increasing focus on the individual migrant, especially in relation to edu-cation, employment and housing, provided the framework for the response. Second, the shift of rural governance from state control to collaborative arrangements with nonstate actors, enabled the unprecedented involvement of civil society in the reception and integration of asylum-seekers in rural areas. The consequences of the confluence of these two approaches are most visible in rural areas. In this paper, we explore the new landscape of collab-orative governance in relation to migrant reception and integration and ask: what kind of space for maneuver might be available for migrants in the context of collaborative governance of integration in rural Europe? We argue that the new context of rural governance in tandem with integration policies focusing on individual mi-grants/ families rather than also considering group and ethnic belongings can leave newcomers at the mercy of an informal and unknown institutional terrain of collaborative governance, one that can exacerbate their vulnerability and lead to a situation of ?double isolation?-from co-ethnic networks as well as from local society.


Double-isolation; Asylum-seekers; Integration; Civil Society; Welfare; Rural governance

Published in

Journal of Rural Studies
2021, Volume: 82, pages: 19-28

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    • Sustainable Development Goals

      Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
      Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

      UKÄ Subject classification

      International Migration and Ethnic Relations
      Public Administration Studies

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