Participation in Voluntary Organizations and Civic Integration of Immigrants in Crisis-Stricken Greece

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Apostolos G. PAPADOPOULOS , Department of Geography, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece
Loukia-Maria FRATSEA , Department of Geography, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

During the last two decades Southern European countries, which were in the past a labour reserve for Western Europe and North America, experienced migration transition to host societies. A number of factors explain this transformation; their geopolitical position, the improved socioeconomic situation and the fact that they are part of the European Union. The recent economic crisis seems to have affected the size of immigration flows in Europe while it raised new issues related to the integration of immigrants in southern European host countries and the challenges faced by the latter for maintaining social cohesion.

Migration research in Southern Europe focuses on the immigrant characteristics and the integration opportunities of immigrants. The recent emergence of immigrant associations and voluntary organizations has not been accompanied by an extensive study of the linkages between immigrant participation in voluntary associations and civic integration in Southern Europe and more particularly in Greece. Moreover, the ongoing economic recession has had an immense impact on the participation and civic engagement of immigrants in host countries.

The paper aims at unveiling the factors which are related to the participation of immigrants in voluntary associations and the implications of immigrant participation for their social and civil integration in host countries. Firstly, the paper will review the relevant literature in Southern European countries and then the situation of immigrant participation and civic engagement in Greece will be presented. The paper will be solidly based on a comparative analysis of research findings emanating from two consecutive research projects aiming at the study of immigrant participation in voluntary associations at the start (2009-2010) and in the midst of crisis (2013) in Greece. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be used to reflect on the deficits and the challenges of the EU and Greek migration policy towards immigrant participation and civic integration.