The Lives of TCN Migrant Youth in Europe between Perceived Vulnerabilities and Resources

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "International Migration".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2022) | Viewed by 14752

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Psychology Department, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, L.go Gemelli 1, 20123 Milan, Italy
Interests: migration; ethnic identity; family transitions

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Co-Guest Editor
Social Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, 20123 Milano, MI, Italy
Interests: family migration; intergroup relations; resilience

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Co-Guest Editor
Department of Geography and Spatial Planning, Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, University of Luxembourg, 4366 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
Interests: migration; border studies; man–environment-studies; European spatial planning and development; rural geography
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, 4365 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
Interests: migrants and refugees integration; vulnerability; inter-ethnic relations; discrimination

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Within the emergent, complex, multi-layered processes characterizing and shaping contemporary migration, young people are uniquely positioned as future citizens of their respective European host countries, exercising their agency within, alongside and against migration regimes and governance.

Young third-country nationals’ essential contribution to Europe in terms of the demographic rejuvenation of European societies and the maintenance of their economies cannot be underestimated. Yet, the diversity of migration trajectories and motives, and their significance from a life-course perspective demand nuanced research approaches to capture complex, dynamic and situated experiences.

Research needs to acknowledge non-linear and open-ended integration trajectories of young migrants (aged 18–29) coming from outside the European Union (EU) to EU countries and to explore factors that constitute opportunities or constraints in the perceived experience of different subgroups of migrant youth in vulnerable conditions. 

Such age group should be researched distinctly from other life course key transitions; young migrants aged 18–29 experience a double transition - from their country of origin to the host country, as well as from infancy/adolescence to adulthood - which generates challenges, vulnerabilities and trajectories that appear to be specific to this age group. 

In other words, an expected critical life-course event—entering adulthood—overlaps with a further critical transition, namely migration itself, with its complexity and diversity in terms of reasons, voluntary nature of the decision to migrate, trajectories, traumatic journeys, and places of arrival. Whilst accounting for the long-established—if scientifically and politically crystalized—juxtaposed, conventional categories of forced migrants versus economic migrants, the SI aims at focussing on the specificities related to conditions of vulnerability experienced by young migrants and their intersectionality with gender, age, cultural, health issues.

Studies focussing on specificities and commonalities emerging from the integration experiences of different subgroups of young migrants in vulnerable conditions (e.g., migrant NEETs, unaccompanied minors coming of age, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, LGBTQ+ migrants, refugees living in reception centers; ...) on a wide variety of life domains (psychological wellbeing; family relational processes; formal and informal social network; local services access; educational career and labor market; housing) are welcome.  

Along these lines, the Special Issue aims at collecting contributions not only addressing the subjective perspective of migrant youth (aged 18–29) on the difficulties and challenges that they face whilst building their lives in their respective European host country, but also the unique strategies that each young person develops as an active agent the resources available to them in their lived contexts.

More specifically, the Special Issue invites contributions from a reflexive perspective that problematizes and nuances concepts that have long occupied the center stage in migration research, such as integration, resilience, and the very attribution of the category of vulnerability.

We are especially interested in same-country multi-site and/or cross-national comparative studies within the European context. Original empirical research adopting qualitative or quantitative research approaches is welcome. 

Topics may include: 

  • Theoretically focused critical debates on vulnerability and migrant youth in Europe
  • A systematic review on migrant youth vulnerability and resilience in post-migration European context
  • European studies on the staging of broadly defined vulnerabilities of young migrants in different contexts (e.g., situations of economic and legal status precariousness; involuntary or forced migration…) 
  • European studies focusing on the intersectionality between specific and emergent vulnerability conditions in youth migratory transitions (i.e., gender and social inequalities, conflicting temporalities, space-related challenges…) 
  • European studies underlying the interplay of resilience factors at the individual, relational, and social level enable young migrants to navigate through the challenges prompted by the migration process. 

Dr. Cristina Giuliani
Prof. Dr. Camillo Regalia
Prof. Dr. Birte Nienaber
Amalia Gilodi
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • youth migratory transitions
  • vulnerability
  • resilience
  • gender
  • forced migrants
  • economic migrants

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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9 pages, 266 KiB  
Editorial
The Lives of Third-Country National Migrant Youth in Europe: Between Perceived Vulnerabilities and Available Resources
by Cristina Giuliani, Amalia Gilodi, Camillo Regalia, Jan Skrobanek and Birte Nienaber
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(10), 569; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12100569 - 12 Oct 2023
Viewed by 997
Abstract
The idea for this Special Issue emerged from the Editors’ collaboration on the framework of the European project MIMY: EMpowerment through liquid Integration of Migrant Youth in vulnerable conditions [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

16 pages, 301 KiB  
Article
Young Refugees’ Integration Trajectories—The Critical Role of Local Resources in Germany
by Zeynep Aydar and Jörg Plöger
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(5), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12050293 - 09 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1426
Abstract
Though it is a global phenomenon, migration results in a variety of local outcomes. Depending on migrants’ specific arrival contexts, countries of origin and migration motives, they are channelled into different categories. As a result, they encounter unequal access to different domains at [...] Read more.
Though it is a global phenomenon, migration results in a variety of local outcomes. Depending on migrants’ specific arrival contexts, countries of origin and migration motives, they are channelled into different categories. As a result, they encounter unequal access to different domains at the local level. This paper analyses how young migrants in vulnerable conditions are able to access and use local or localised resources and to what extend these resources enable them to overcome structural barriers over time. Our analysis builds on empirical findings from a case study in Dortmund, Germany, conducted through the EU-funded MIMY project. Drawing on narrative interviews with young refugees (aged 18–29), it highlights three specific cases where temporal and spatial factors shape individual integration pathways. The narratives highlight the barriers encountered by young refugees, most of which are related to migrant policy categories implemented at national or supra-national levels. In the arrival context, the young migrants are able—to varying degrees—to mobilise localised resources helping them overcome (at least partially) such mainly structural barriers. Focusing on the emergence and evolution of local integration landscapes thus reveals the importance of time and the difference time makes in terms of the availability of resources and legal frameworks. Full article
19 pages, 312 KiB  
Article
Agency of Migrant Youth in Hostile Sociopolitical Environments: Case Studies from Central Eastern Europe
by Zsuzsanna Arendas, Agnieszka Trąbka, Vera Messing, Marta Jadviga Pietrusińska and Dominika Winogrodzka
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(4), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12040210 - 04 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1476
Abstract
This paper compares the integration of third-country youth in Poland and Hungary in two Central Eastern European contexts characterized by a hostile sociopolitical environment for migrants, right-wing policies, illiberalism, and regression in various related policy areas. Our article is based on a three-year [...] Read more.
This paper compares the integration of third-country youth in Poland and Hungary in two Central Eastern European contexts characterized by a hostile sociopolitical environment for migrants, right-wing policies, illiberalism, and regression in various related policy areas. Our article is based on a three-year EU-funded research project that investigated the integration of migrant youth in precarious circumstances (MIMY). It uses data from qualitative interviews conducted with migrant youth and thus focuses on the migrant’s perspective while exploring how coping and navigating such hostile environments occurs. The analysis is based on the concept of migrant agency in extremely difficult and complex sociopolitical situations. Our findings highlight the particular importance of the latter in these hostile environments. We argue that while the withdrawal of the state from integration has created difficult contexts for migrant youth, they exhibit different forms of agency, enabling them to adapt to opportunity structures. While these forms of agency are important and real, the structural constraints imposed by hostile states’ anti-immigration and anti-integration attitudes significantly limit migrants’ options for coping with everyday life. Full article
24 pages, 328 KiB  
Article
Identity Threats and Individual, Relational, and Social Resources among Refugees in Italy
by Eleonora Crapolicchio, Marta Matuella, Giulia Carones, Daniela Marzana and Camillo Regalia
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(3), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12030149 - 02 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1353
Abstract
Young people who migrate to another country, especially in the context of forced migration, must face complex and lengthy challenges. From a psychological point of view, the main challenges of migration are the re-signification of one’s identity, the re-establishment of one’s own life [...] Read more.
Young people who migrate to another country, especially in the context of forced migration, must face complex and lengthy challenges. From a psychological point of view, the main challenges of migration are the re-signification of one’s identity, the re-establishment of one’s own life in the new country, and facing different social and institutional challenges as well as individual difficulties. All these challenges may constitute a threat to young migrants’ identity. Based on the Motivated Identity Construction Theory, this study aimed to explore—in a sample of refugees—the identity threats faced by forced migrants in the settlement phase and the resources most frequently activated in dealing with this sensitive phase. Full article
13 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Temporary Residence Permits on Young Refugees’ Abilities to Build a Life in Sweden
by Jacob Lind, Christina Hansen and Nadeen Khoury
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(3), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12030143 - 01 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1596
Abstract
Drawing on interviews with young refugees, 20–30 years old, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan, we discuss the effects that temporary residence permits have on their ability to build a life in Sweden. The article includes both unaccompanied and accompanied youth that at some [...] Read more.
Drawing on interviews with young refugees, 20–30 years old, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan, we discuss the effects that temporary residence permits have on their ability to build a life in Sweden. The article includes both unaccompanied and accompanied youth that at some point had been given temporary residence permits. These permits could later be renewed or turned into permanent permits if the youth fulfilled certain tough requirements. Through rich empirical data, we show how these temporal techniques of border control keep young refugees in a state where they fear deportation, which have detrimental effects for their ability to build a life in Sweden. They are not able to plan ahead and they feel forced to work although they would have preferred to study, which puts them out of sync with other young people around them, challenges their sense of agency and increases their vulnerability. Temporary residence permits severely limit the life opportunities of young refugees in Sweden, and thus hamper their ability to achieve the “migrant integration” that is expected of them. Full article
27 pages, 359 KiB  
Article
Look at Me, but Better”: The Experience of Young NEET Migrant Women between Vulnerability and Stifled Ambitions
by Laura Zanfrini and Cristina Giuliani
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(2), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12020110 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1728
Abstract
The experience and the condition of the vulnerability of young immigrant women with NEET status are not acknowledged in both research and social policy. Within the extreme variety gathered under the term NEET, this present article aims at exploring the experience of a [...] Read more.
The experience and the condition of the vulnerability of young immigrant women with NEET status are not acknowledged in both research and social policy. Within the extreme variety gathered under the term NEET, this present article aims at exploring the experience of a group of young non-EU migrant women aged between 18 and 31 living in Italy, who at the time of their participation in this study, were not engaged in education, employment, or training. Nineteen semi-structured interviews have been collected involving young women who migrated from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Morocco, Pakistan, and Tunisia, in most cases through family reunification. Thematic analysis carried out on interview transcripts highlights the complexity and richness of the stories and experiences narrated by participants, composing a heterogeneous group marked by different levels of vulnerability and resilience capabilities, language skills, and involvement in the goal of finding a job. The perception of vulnerability that emerges from the women interviewed refers mainly to the relational dimension of life, which appears to be characterized by loneliness, a sense of isolation, and feelings of extraneousness (not belonging) with respect to an external context. Implications for policies aimed at this specific group of foreign women are discussed. Full article
22 pages, 398 KiB  
Article
The Vulnerability of Young Refugees Living in Reception Centres in Luxembourg: An Overview of Conditions and Experiences across Subjective Temporal Imaginaries
by Amalia Gilodi, Catherine Richard, Isabelle Albert and Birte Nienaber
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(2), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12020102 - 14 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1822
Abstract
Vulnerability has become a key concept in discourses and policies on international protection and reception of refugees. In this context, the notion has been described as a tool to provide special provisions to groups at higher risk or one to perpetuate political agendas [...] Read more.
Vulnerability has become a key concept in discourses and policies on international protection and reception of refugees. In this context, the notion has been described as a tool to provide special provisions to groups at higher risk or one to perpetuate political agendas within increasingly hostile reception systems. However, vulnerability as an analytical concept has received less attention, with both policymakers and scholars often employing different conceptualisations of vulnerability or treating it as a self-explanatory condition. Building on a previous conceptual elaboration, this paper sets out to apply an understanding of vulnerability as multi-layered, dynamic and embedded in a study of the lived experiences of a group of potentially ‘vulnerable’ migrants, based on ‘fixed’ contextual criteria. Drawing from in-depth interviews with young adults who obtained refugee status in Luxembourg but still live in ‘temporary’ reception centres, this paper provides a wide analytical overview of the conditions of vulnerability encountered by this specific group of migrants, in the process of building their lives in a new country. Following the participants’ subjective temporal imaginaries of past, present and future, the analysis highlights and problematises conditions of structural, situational and experiential vulnerability emerging from their accounts and experiences, and discusses their possible implications. Full article
23 pages, 510 KiB  
Article
Two-Speed Integration? A Comparative Analysis of Barriers and Resilience Strategies of Young Migrants in Vulnerable Conditions in Romania
by Smaranda Cimpoeru, Monica Roman, Vlad I. Roșca, Elena-Maria Prada, Ioana Manafi and Laura Mureșan
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(2), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12020084 - 07 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2109
Abstract
This comparative study focuses on the barriers to social and economic inclusion, as well as the integration and coping strategies of Arab and Moldovan migrants in Romania. We explored the integration barriers they face, the main individual and societal aspects that lead to [...] Read more.
This comparative study focuses on the barriers to social and economic inclusion, as well as the integration and coping strategies of Arab and Moldovan migrants in Romania. We explored the integration barriers they face, the main individual and societal aspects that lead to their resilience, and their self-perception of vulnerability, by carrying out 35 psychosocial interviews and four focus groups with young migrants (aged 18 to 29), belonging to the two different subgroups (of Arab and Moldovan origins, respectively). The comparative analysis revealed that migrants from Arab countries face harsher integration barriers compared to Moldovan migrants, they have a more severe self-perceived vulnerability, and their integration may be a longer and more complex process. Results showed that mastery of the language and the network of acquaintances play an indispensable role in inclusion. Moldovans integrate more easily than Arabs, thanks to their fluency in Romanian, the native language shared with the majority local population, the geographical and cultural proximity to the country of destination, and the larger personal network. We highlight the need for improving integration policies for young migrants, tailoring them to the specific problems and barriers that migrants are facing. Full article
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15 pages, 279 KiB  
Article
Consonant and Dissonant Experiences—Young Migrants’ Understandings of Integration: A Cross-Country Comparison between Germany, Luxembourg, and Norway
by Dorothea Biaback Anong, Jan Skrobanek, Leonie Wagner and Birte Nienaber
Soc. Sci. 2023, 12(2), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12020078 - 31 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1132
Abstract
Our article addresses two aspects of young migrants’ understandings of integration: their own ideas of what integration is, and their perception of the destination society’s concepts and expectations regarding their integration. We analyze qualitative interviews which were conducted in the Horizon 2020 project [...] Read more.
Our article addresses two aspects of young migrants’ understandings of integration: their own ideas of what integration is, and their perception of the destination society’s concepts and expectations regarding their integration. We analyze qualitative interviews which were conducted in the Horizon 2020 project MIMY, in Germany, Luxembourg and Norway, using the grounded theory methodology. Our exploration shows that the young migrants’ awareness of the existing ideas of integration surrounding them creates a complex reflective interaction between their own ideas and the (perceived) expectations from society. We identified aspects of consonance, where young migrants’ ideas coincide with the expectations they perceive. More importantly, however, our research has discovered that the youth experience tensions and dissonance between their own ideas of what integration should be and the concepts and expectations regarding integration they feel confronted with by society. Our analysis revealed that while young migrants’ understandings of integration are very close to state-of-the-art scientific conceptualizations of integration, this view is not matched by the meaning of integration they perceive around them. Full article
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