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Comparing Global Practices to Integrate Migrants in the Cities


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Abstract

City will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy (White, 1999).

According to Georg Simmel, a german sociologist, being together with countless strangers in the crowded spaces of the city is a primary condition for urban social life. Simmel argued that urban people need to adopt such attitude to enable them to negotiate a teeming social space and at the same time preserve some degree of ‘psychological private property’. People learn to keep their social distance and live side by side for years-without knowing and even trusting each other. Cities are perceived as the places where this kind of social relation is possible, tolerable and even normal. Interestingly, even though urban people are less likely to have strong social ties, they are very reluctant to welcome newcomer migrants in their neighborhood especially the unskilled migrants. Refugees, jobless migrants, and migrants who are employed in low-skilled service jobs are often seen as freeloaders or suspected of being criminals (Ciarnene and Kumpikaite, 2008). Anxiety over public security, many native residents are against the government’s plans to accept more jobless and low-skilled migrants. The growing xenophobia and rejection toward the presence of foreign migrants in urban neighborhoods have been reported in many cities and towns such as in Berlin, London, Pierrefeu, and even Tokyo.

It is time for urban planners and many scholars to understand these challenges, to explain the dynamic and to discuss the consequences of migration and social integration for the future and sustainability of cities. It is indeed a challenge for many cities to embrace the diversity of the growing urban population. This study focuses on the issues of integration and social inclusion of migrants in the cities. We will examine practices taken by many countries and cities in promoting immigrant inclusion. In this study, we also explore migrants’ stories to understand how it feels and how difficult or easy it is to live as a migrant and assimilate into society. This study attempts to understand the key challenge in facilitating the smooth integration of newcomers and similarly reducing the social tension between newcomer migrants and native people. Learning from the practices taken by various cities, the study is expected to provide recommendations for future policies toward migrant integration and inclusive society in order to create new value in society in cities with a growing population of immigrants.