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Research Theme: Cities, Communities and Contested Urbanism
Supervisors: Dr. Ruth McAreavey ( ), Dr.Mike Corman (School of Sociology and Social Work)

This study seeks to explore the efforts of first generation immigrants in Northern Ireland. It is intended to investigate their understanding of integration, the values and the meaning they attach to the concept and the actions that they take to integrate. It does this by considering settlement patterns and processes among migrant communities in Northern Ireland. Emerging research has identified housing as a critical factor in migrants’ economic and social mobility within Northern Ireland (O’Reilly et al. 2014; Doyle in progress). Existing piecemeal studies suggest a gender dimension to processes of integration. It seems that female immigrants appear to see integration as a final condition where they attach social values such as belonging, acceptance, mutual respect and tolerance towards difference and in that a two-way journey. By contrast, men consider integration as a one-way process which focuses on the functional aspects of integration such as gaining employment, housing and paying taxes. In other words, men and women do not appear to attach the same social values to integration. This also contradicts wider policy rhetoric of integration, which has significant consequences on our understanding of how integration is played out in practice. It raises questions of the potential for a gender specific approach in supporting migrant integration.

This study is predominantly qualitative research involving an ethnographic study including document analysis, interviews and focus groups. Secondary data will therefore support empirical primary data. The study will target a range of different migrants. First generation immigrants, particularly those who migrated to Northern Ireland with long term residency/settlement plans are of interest as they tend to actively seek to integrate.  The study will also consider recent migrants and those who have made their home in NI for more than 10 years.’ This research will complement a literature pool of migration and integration in Northern Ireland, a New Immigration Destination and so will add to that emerging body of scholarship. It will help us in shaping local policies in housing, racial equality and more widely within Northern Ireland.

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