BORDERS: The attitudes of students at the University of Split on immigration, immigrants, and refugees

Split: Sveučilište u Splitu, Filozofski fakultet (2021)
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Abstract

Migration has, in recent years, been one of the most current topics both in Croatia and worldwide. We have witnessed increased emigration (i.e. out-migration) of Croatian citizens, as well as attempts to cross the Croatian state border by citizens of other countries. This book focuses on migration in the context of the so-called migrant and refugee crisis, which is considered from a philosophical and sociological perspective. Any gender-specific terms, irrespective of the gender in which they are used here, refer equally to both men and women. The book came into being as part of a study conducted by the authors in 2019 among students at the University of Split. This was one of the activities carried out within the project entitled Creating welcoming communities, which was coordinated by the Association "MI" – Split, with the support of the UNHCR’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) Representation in Croatia. The main objective of the project was to improve the conditions for better integration of asylum seekers at the local and regional level, with a special emphasis on local stakeholders and the community. The objective and activities of the project reflect and anticipate relocation policies and work towards analysing, valorising, and developing recommendations for the preparation of the local community and self-government to provide support. In this regard, we can say that the aim of the project is a contribution of sorts to creating a welcoming atmosphere and better conditions for integration through cooperation with institutions, and especially with the academic community. The project activities were intended to include relevant scientific findings that would enable the interested public to gain a more systematic understanding of the current social situation as well as to promote the idea of the possibilities of achieving a higher integration standard. In the complex social circumstances of today, which require understanding and adaptation, in addition to adequate access to accurate information, it is also crucial to ensure and facilitate the forming of inter-sectoral networks that would respond more readily to existing challenges. This primarily requires knowledge exchange, but also cooperation between different stakeholders such as public institutions, local and state government, civil society organisations, the academic community, media, etc. All these stakeholders play an equally important role in establishing a support network for a multitude of beneficiaries within the integration process. The establishment of a support network for the reception and integration of asylum seekers depends on the support of the local population in the broadest sense. One of the aims of the study was to analyse the relationship between the respondents’ identity features and their attitudes on accepting immigrants and refugees. The structure of the survey is based on the following objectives within which we sought to identify: 1) students’ attitudes on immigration, immigrants, and refugees, 2) the perceived sociodemographic profiles of immigrants and refugees, 3) the eventual presence of social distance towards immigrants and refugees. For the sake of clarity and better presentation, the second and third research objectives are analytically separated from the first one, although, in fact, a connection exists between them. How students perceive migration, immigrants, and refugees plays a role in shaping their attitudes towards them, as well as in potential behaviours reflected in the degree of social distance. From the sociological perspective, identity is seen as the way we perceive ourselves and others, as well as the way we are perceived by others. It involves sameness, similarity and difference concerning various groups of individuals (Abercrombie, Hill & Turner, 2006:190). Identity is associated with the meanings individuals and groups attach to their social reality, resulting in different forms of action. As such, it becomes one of the central political, scientific, and social topics in general. The book is structured in six chapters. Following the introduction, the first chapter presents the theoretical framework on which the conducted research is based. It goes on to elaborate on the concepts significant for a better understanding of the covered topic, in particular the concept of identity, the differences between the concepts of immigrant and refugee, as well as the frameworks of philosophical reflection on migration (the philosophy of politics and ethics). As confirmed both by our study and by numerous others, the discussion on the topic of identity represents an important element in understanding modern migrations. The third and fourth chapters lay out the research methodology, followed by the results and their interpretation. Chapter 5 provides conclusions and recommendations for further research and the establishment of a support network for the reception and integration of asylum seekers. The final chapter includes references to the literature used.

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Author Profiles

Marita Brčić Kuljiš
University of Split
Anita Lunić
University of Split, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

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