Settlement Experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in Trondheim, Norway
This paper is a qualitative research project that explored the perspectives of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees on their resettlement in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society. Integration is a multidimensional construct dealing with complex interrelated processes pertaining to societal participation that is, the ways in which migrants become part of the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the country of resettlement. This study did not discuss all perspectives of resettlement and integration. in contrast, this paper focuses mainly on the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon.
Migration is a process that commences with the simple thought of moving, but it continues long after the individual arrives in her or his new home. The process is constrained by certain factors such as capital, immigration policy, and the existence of kinship networks. Individuals, who are able to overcome these constraints and decide to migrate, must overcome a new set of challenges upon arrival in the host county.
These challenges include the need to adapt to a new labour market, use of a new language, and integration with the rest of society. Integration is a multidimensional construct dealing with complex interrelated processes pertaining to societal participation — that is, the ways in which migrants become part of the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the country of resettlement (Bloch, 1997). This paper, however, focuses primarily on the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon.
Exploring the settlement experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil refuges in Trondheim Norway and considered aspects of their integration into Norwegian society.
Integration is frequently described in terms of continuity versus change, continuity being synonymous with socio-cultural maintenance and change with integration (Carey-Wood at el 1995). For this study I adopted a framework proposed by Berry and Sam (1997) that views continuity and change as complimentary, rather than competing, processes. This framework considers maintenance of socio-cultural identity and the associated establishment of ties with the dominant society as joint criteria for successful integration.
A variety of factors influence the integration process. One is the distance between the home and the host culture; the greater the cultural gap between the refugee and the country of relocation, the more difficult the integration process (Duke, 1996). Another determinant is generational status; “The settlement of refugees in Britain … indicate that the first generation of adult migrants largely preserve the features of culture and lifestyle of their country of origin” (Carey-Wood at el 1995); it is the second generation that more readily accepts the norms and cultural practices of the country of resettlement.
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