Participation & integration

The theme ‘participation and integration’ brings together research studying the participation and integration of migrants and refugees in the societies in which they temporarily or permanently reside, with as central topics: citizenship, belonging, discrimination, experiences and coping strategies.

Assimilation processes of migrants in an inter- and multigenerational perspective

Description: This research is about assimilation processes of several generations of migrants (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation) in different time episodes (sixties, eighties, present). Assimilation is not seen as an ideal to reach, but rachter as a possible way of examining processes migrants go through in the receiving country. Assimilation is used as a multidimensional concept, with a structural (education, labour market), cultural (language, leisure time), social (network, membership of organizations) and identificational dimension (self-identification in terms of ethnic/regional/national belonging). Objective as well as subjective components (own perception of migrants) are taken into account. Three studies are planned: a survey with youngsters in the last years of secondary schools in Genk and Sint-Niklaas, family interviews with multigenerational families with a migrant background and a discourse analysis of newspaper articles of different time episodes.
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lieve Bradt
Researcher(s): Floor Verhaeghe
Department / Research group: Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Children’s rights in appellate asylum proceedings in Belgium: a legal ethnography

Description: This project investigates how children's rights are perceived, mobilised and practiced by the actors involved in the Belgian asylum procedure on appeal. We combine research methods from law (case law analysis) and anthropology (ethnography) to study the role of children's rights in these procedures from the point of view of children and young people, their parents or guardians, lawyers, first instance representatives and judges of the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL). We answer three questions: how do individuals experience and understand children’s rights; to what extent do they define their situation in terms of children's rights; and what standards and practices shape the internal legal culture in which the Council operates? The project contributes to the field of 'critical children's rights studies', paying particular attention to how children's rights are shaped by children themselves and by children's interaction with other groups.
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Sara Lembrechts
Department / Research group: Migration Law Research Group
Faculty: Faculty of Law and Criminology

Ethnic minority higher education in China

Description: Xiaoling Liu's doctoral research topic is about inequalities in Chinese higher education. Her research focuses on ethnic minority participation and academic experiences, under affirmative action policies, in China’s elite higher education institutions. The study examines the relationship between various forms of social, cultural and economic capital and the associated opportunities and experiences of ethnic minorities. Furthermore, the study intends to elucidate upon the barriers to access experienced by these students and the strategies that they employ to attain high education qualifications.
Promoter(s): Peter Stevens, Jeroen Huisman
Researcher(s): Liu xiaoling
Department / Research group: Department of Sociology/Cultural Diversity: Opportunities & Socialisation
Faculty: Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

Language and employability. A sociolinguistic ethnography of the activation of migrant job seekers in Flanders

Description: This project proposes a sociolinguistic ethnographic analysis of the activation trajectories in which migrant job seekers are inserted in Flemish Belgium. The analysis aims at acquiring insight in the role of language in the different stages of these trajectories, focusing on the relation between small-scale interactional practices, policy requirements and public macro-discourses on integration, linguistic diversity and work.
Promoter(s): Sarah Van Hoof, Alfonso Del Percio
Researcher(s): Sara Nyssen
Department / Research group: MULTIPLES
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

Mapping the Invisible City. Spatial Manifestations of sub-Saharan African Diaspora in the mid-size city in Europe (the case of Belgium).

Description: By bringing together knowledge from a broad range of scholarship and developing innovative research methods, this research seeks to establish a critical and multi-layered mapping of the processes and products of physical place making by African diaspora in the mid-sized city in Belgium. The outcome of this research will provide us with new and essential knowledge on (1) the architecture of everyday spaces of African migration in the mid-sized city in Belgium, as well as on (2) the transnational exchange of African place-making strategies. Moreover, this research aims to examine (3) to what extent the spaces of African migration may be considered alternative forms of urban regeneration in the mid-sized city. This way a cross-fertilization between three domains of research will be realized: migrant studies, urban studies and architecture.
Promoter(s): Johan Lagae, Karel Arnaut, Stijn Oosterlynck
Researcher(s): Luce Beeckmans
Department / Research group: Department of Architecture and Urban Planning
Faculty: Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

MOBILISE: Determinants of ‘Mobilisation’ at Home & Abroad: Analysing the Micro-Foundations of Out-Migration & Mass Protest

Description: The MOBILISE project asks: when the state fails to respond to the economic or political needs of citizens, why do some people mobilise by protesting in the streets while others ‘mobilise’ by crossing borders? And how do the choices of protest and out-migration relate to each other? Connecting theoretical expectations from the migration and protest literatures, we examine: a) whether similar factors drive the choice to migrate and/or protest at the individual level; b) how context affects this mobilisation; c) whether these choices are independent of each other or mutually reinforcing/ undermining. MOBILISE employs a multi-method (nationally representative panel surveys, online migrant surveys, focus groups, life-history interviews, social media analysis) and a multi-sited research design. It covers Ukraine, Poland, Morocco and Argentina, which have recently witnessed large-scale emigration and protests and follows migrants from these countries to Germany, the UK and Spain.
Promoter(s): Toma Sorana, Onuch Olga, Sasse Gwendolyn
Researcher(s): Toma Sorana
Department / Research group: Department of Public Health and Primary Care
Faculty: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Refugee relief during the First World War: Belgian refugees in Birmingham (1914-1919)

Description: The First World War can be identified as a total war since it affected every level of society, far beyond the front. The violence against civilians caused an unprecedented stream of refugees, which induced in its turn an explosion of humanitarian help. In this view, the Great War can be seen as a catalyst for the transition of charity towards a professional and institutionalized social work. Furthermore, the war was a decisive turning point in which the initial outlines of the current (inter)national policies regarding refugees and human rights were drawn. In Belgium 250.000 Belgians fled to England, of which 5.000 stayed in Birmingham. During the war a layered network of relief work was established to meet the needs of these refugees. Consequently, the central research question of this study is: “How did the Belgian exile during the First World War challenge and influence social work and the underlying networks and what were post-war effects on the further development of social work?”
Promoter(s): .N.N.
Researcher(s): Jolien De Vuyst
Department / Research group: Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Research project Evaluation

Description: This project aims at an evidence-based evaluation of the multilingual (in 14 languages) website of Sensoa, the Flemish expertise centre for sexual health. The website ( has been designed for newcomers, asylum seekers and people without residence permit and also serves as support tool for professionals in counselling and training. The project addresses three major goals: (1) evaluating the multilingual website; (2) evaluating its current implementation strategy and (3) formulating specific recommendations to improve the quality of the website and its implementation. Drawing from a combination of research methods (context analysis, digital survey, interviews, video-taped interaction and subsequent benchmark sessions), this project envisions an evidence-based answer to a number of research questions relating to communication about sexual health with vulnerable migrants.
Promoter(s): Katrijn Maryns, Ellen Van Praet, July De Wilde
Researcher(s): Pauline Van Daele
Department / Research group: Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication - MULTIPLES
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

The precarious citizenship of refugees: an empirical study on how refugees become political

Description: In this research we focus on the precarious citizenship of refugees. We aim to not only take into account the citizenship practices, statuses and identities of migrants themselves but also how this interacts with citizenship discourses that are used within the migration and integration policies of Belgian governments. In this way, we want to contribute to the debate on how global migration is challenging and transforming citizenship. To do this, we will undertake a multi-method approach combining an ethnographic study including participant observation and in-depth interviews with young refugees in Belgium and a discourse analysis of the Flemish and Belgian integration and migration policies.
Promoter(s): Lesley Hustinx
Researcher(s): Rachel Waerniers
Department / Research group: Department of Sociology/ Centre for Social Theory
Faculty: Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

The role of social work in supporting ger residents in the development of aspirations to belong to the Mongolian society

Description: #VERW!
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Ine Lietaert
Researcher(s): Terbish Bayartsetseg (Tsegi)
Department / Research group: Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

The Russian migration towards Belgian cities. A network and life course analysis of Russian migrants in Brussels and Liege, 1880-1914.

Description: The aim of this research is to study the Russian presence in the Belgian cities of Brussels and Liege during the 1880s until the advent of WWI through a network and systematic life course analysis. The Russian migration acts as a case study for long distance migration in the nineteenth century. The turbulent climate in Russia, the economic recession and the suspicion for the rise in socialist ideas potentially created specific dynamics that characterised the Russian migration towards Western Europe. The main sources are the foreigners’ files, the municipal police archives and the archive of the Okhrana. As such, this research contributes to a further understanding of long distance migration and provides more insights into the dynamics between migrants and the receiving society. More importantly, by including a network and life course analysis, this study aims to significantly broaden the narrow focus utilised in past literature, where the emphasis was placed upon the political refugee.
Promoter(s): Christophe Verbruggen, Margot De Koster
Researcher(s): Maïté Van Vyve
Department / Research group: History
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy