Biographies and The Doubleness Of Inclusion and Exclusion

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Halleh GHORASHI , VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Melanie EIJBERTS , Sociology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Most research on diversity is  often showing either exclusion or inclusion practices at work in the integration process. Yet biographical research provides the possibility to see the layerdness that is often involved in the process of societal participation which is  rather paradoxical than straightforward. With the term of doubleness we hope to grasp these paradoxical processes in which inclusion and exclusion overlap. In this paper, we explore two paradoxes that show this doubleness: namely the language paradox and the economic integration paradox. Through biographical narratives of women with a migration background we show how mastering the language (language inclusion) could lead to a decrease of sense of belonging (emotional exclusion) when they get access to the national discourse which is negative about migrants. The second, the economic integration paradox, demonstrates that women who were successful to integrate economically (via study and work), felt excluded through everyday negative experiences with others (mainly members of the majority group) in those environments.

            This study shows the limitations of a linear conceptualization of the  integration process by policy makers (and scholars), assuming that language and economic inclusion would be the crucial step towards social and emotional inclusion. The narratives of women in this study gave us the opportunity to discover how the growing access to society has had an opposite effect on their sense of belonging. This paradox is even more visible for women who are most eager in their quest for inclusion, willing to belong to the society. For them the level of disappointment is even higher when they are able to read and hear about the dominant perception of migrants and thus feel excluded based on their growing level of participation in various levels in society.