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Cultural Integration Experiences Of Migrants Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 5426 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Recent years have seen an increase in the number of migrant in Ireland, Ireland has become so diversified, there are different nationalities and races that now live in Ireland for one reason or the other.

In modern Ireland, There are Africans, African Americans, white Americans, Asians, Chinese, Europeans, Latinos and so on now represented in Ireland. There are also different ethnic groups like, the Albenia, Iraq, Spanish, Canadian, Ethiopians, Russian, Moroccans and so on. All these people have decided to make Ireland their home for different reasons some are job seekers, some refugees, some Asylum seekers, some students and so on.

All these migrants have their own cultures, material cultures and also inmaterial cultures. They have different norms, values and so on which means a lot to them which most of the time, they find very difficult to let go. In regards of these, Irish culture has also been a part of their life.

A society is rarely culturally uniformed, this makes society an interesting place, there are many ways of life in one society (cultural diversity). Cultural diversity makes a society interesting but more complex to understand as society develops, different cultures and traditions appear. Most migrant however, love to hold on to their own beliefs and traditions whether we accept it or not which sometimes lead to an in -cohesive society and an in- cohesive society is an unstable society.

To have a stable society therefore, the government of Ireland thought integrating migrant in different ways especially integrating them culturally will help, integration helps to understand cultural differences and beliefs that bring a more cohesive society and a more cohesive society will invariably aid a nations economic productivity and performance.

The importance of integration in a diversify society cannot be overemphasized, its importance is beneficial to the country both nationally and internationally as it has been noted that while people integrate easily in so many others ways, they find it more difficult to integrate culturally this is not to say they do not integrate at all culturally.

This research however, aims at investigating and understanding issues of cultural integration amongst members of a society using community in Clonee Dublin 15 as a case study. In Clonee there are lots of ethnic minorities. The research aims at getting a greater idea on what promotes and debar integration especially as it is believed that there is little integration of migrants in Ireland. The research will further want to know what Irish and immigrant comprehends as integration in their community and if there is little or total integration amongst migrant and indigenes in the community.

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Furthermore, the research will want to find out how regularly migrants participate in different functions, activities or opportunities available for integration in their community and what factors and issues hinders migrants as being part of a community. The researcher wants to acquire different opinion from different nationalities in the community on integration issues and will do this by investigating how integration affects migrants, their families and community as a whole and also explore challenges faced by migrant on a daily basis.

The research will finally investigate if there are policies available to support migrant’s integration, if these policies are implemented, and how does it ensure a cohesive society.

A qualitative method of research will be use for this research, the method of data analysis will be use in conducting Interviews with people to understand the way of life of migrants their beliefs, attitudes and values.


Ireland has become a diversified society that consists of different nationalities, different race, with different cultural norms, beliefs and so on. From statistics, the number of immigrant in Ireland has increased significantly in the last years (Central statistics office (CSO), 2011) .

People have migrated to Ireland due to different reasons; different legal status, asylum seekers, programme refugee, migrant worker, and also different circumstances for example international student, Irish born child, spouse of someone working for a multi-national corporation and so on.(Fanning and Rush 2006, P.95)

In Ireland it is a common assumption that there is little or no integration of migrants in their community. This research is based on understanding and investigating the issues surrounding migrant integration in their community and to investigate the experiences migrant have in their community. To know to what extent migrant integrate in their community, do they integrate fully or partially, what factors helps them integrate fully, and what factors hinder them from integrating in their community.

Present Ireland, is rich in cultures with people from different races (Europeans, Africans, African Americans, White Americans, Asians, Chinese, Latinos), ethnic groups (Albernian, Spanish, Iraq, Nigerian, Canadian, Ethiopian, Russian, Moroccans etc) and cultures that all live together.

It has been observed by different people that due to vast differences across nationalities and within cultural and ethnic groups, people tend to naturally want to affiliate with members of their own national origin. For example, Africans who have settled in Ireland feel they are part of an ‘African Community’ (Fanning and Rush 2006 P.95) for example we have some communities like, the Ghanaians community, Rwandans community and so on. It has also been observe that some migrant and even the children raised here consider themselves to be African -Irish and wishes to associate themselves with people from their African origin

Having said that who then are migrants? Migrants are persons who live temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country. (United Nations Non-Governmental Liason Service, 2002)

The researcher will want to know if migrants maintain their culture or let go of their culture since they arrive in Ireland as it is a common believe that people are proud of their culture and find it difficult to let go and also to know if there are lots of opportunity for migrants to integrate into their community.

Irish government recognises the fact that Ireland has become a diverse society, they recognise the importance of cohesion and stability in the country and so they have strived to ensure integration amongst migrants and Irish (The Department of Justice and Equality 2011). They have developed different policies to protect the migrants and the minority, but despite their effort there is still assumption that there is little or no integration amongst migrant and indigenes.

What is integration? Integration is the ability to participate to the extent that the person needs and wishes in all the major component of society is met without having to relinquish his or her own cultural identity (Fanning 2002, P.107). From the sociological perspective integration is regarded as a quality of a social system. Integration is referred to as a society which is made up of member groups or individual that are socially combined and that relates with one another. (Entzinger and Biezeveld, 2003).

Furthermore, cultural integration, cultural integration is the affiliation that exists between different cultural backgrounds that enables people learn about material and in- material culture. It also a process where people accept or reject the process of change which is known as globalisation however people need to preserve their own identity (Zwingle, 1999).

Cultural integration requires that culture of each immigrant group is described in terms of its components and then compared to the host country. (Hagendoorn et al 2003,p.3)

Barton, (1989) says integration is controversial because it tends to open emotions and feelings which can cause pain and difficulties and can raise concerns. According to Larkin (2009), integration helps to provide moral and emotional support to families from other cultures and it helps include them to access resources in the community.

There are lots of ways by which the community could help facilitate a cohesive environment for people living in the community for example the survey in U.K by Ipos MORI(2007) shows that migrants involvement and communication between groups has supported integration. For example English language programmes organised for migrants has helped built a cohesive community.(cited in Somerville, 2011)

The rationale behind this research topic is to investigate the issues of integration amongst communities in Ireland using Clonee a community in Dublin as a case study. To know if migrant integrate or do not integrate in their community in Ireland. To ascertain and gain awareness into why migrants integrate and why they do not integrate. In addition, it aims at knowing the views of the residents in Clonee community in Blanchardstown on integration issues, also to know, what the government has done to help make migrant integrate well in their community.

It was thought that it is an appropriate research topic in social care as it is a relevant issue that affects people in Ireland. Social care workers are expected to work with migrants and it is important for them to understand issues around cultural integration. The researcher is a migrant in Ireland who also has children who are Irish by birth, from speaking with other immigrant like herself, she understand that in as much as migrant wishes to integrate culturally, they still prefer to retain some aspect of their own culture for example, the importance of respect for elders, that elders cannot be called by their first name by someone younger than him/her.

The researcher is very much informed and passionate about the research. As a migrant, she knows what is going on amongst migrant’s community and really loves to see more integration amongst members of communities in Ireland. This enthusiasm and general interest she thought would help in the success of the research as it will have a positive effect on the amount of participants that will be willing to get involve and the quality of information that will be gathered throughout the study.

The topic is also relevant to social care, in this diverse society social care practitioner in whatever field they choose to work will get in contact and work with immigrant and indigene families in one way or the other also a social care worker will need to understand migrants culture, their needs and challenges that migrant families are facing especially in relation to integration as it is essential for all social care practitioners to support migrants in their community so that they can adjust to their new community. Migrants need to be socially included in their community in order to facilitate integration.

Literature Review

Cultural integration is the affiliation that exists between different cultural backgrounds that enables people learn about material and in- material culture. It is also a process where people accept or reject the process of change due to globalisation. According to Zwingle, (1999) people need to preserve their own identity however, migrants find it very difficult to balance and maintain their own country of origin culture and religion with their host country. Cultural integration requires that culture of each immigrant group is described in terms of its components and then compared to the host country. (Hagendoorn et al 2003,p.3).

The aim of this research is to understand and investigate the cultural integration issues amongst migrants in Clonee, a community in Dublin 15, under the Fingal county council. The population of Fingal county council as at census 2006 is almost 240,000 people and 40,000 are people of ethnic minority (fingal Ethnic Network, 2006).

Ireland has become a multi-ethnic society, it has been transformed from a country historically characterised as one of emigration to one of notable immigration in the past two decades. According to the 2002 census, ‘non-nationals accounted for more than seven percent of the population (fanning and Pierce, 2004:3 cited in fanning and Rush 2006 p.94)

Ireland has become a multicultural society since the mid 1990’s, multiculturalism is a term that is employed in a number of ways which refers to a range of ideas and practices that relate to acknowledgements of and responses to social diversity (Fanning 2002, p.179). “Multiculturalism is profoundly problematic where the affording of differential rights to groups within society remains acceptable” (Fanning, 2002, p.194-195). People have migrated to Ireland due to different reasons; for different legal status, asylum seeking, programme refugees, migrant workers, and different circumstances for example international students, Irish born child, spouse of someone working for a multi-national corporation and so on.(Fanning and Rush 2006, P.95) Present Ireland is rich in cultures with people from different races and cultures living together.

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In Ireland presently, there is an assumption that migrants don’t integrate, especially integrate culturally with the Irish society. Migrants still hold on to their cultural believes, they find it really difficult to let go for one reason or the other, ‘people are proud of their culture’ even if they have lived in Ireland for long time. However, Entzinger and Biezeveld, (2003) states that it is normal for most migrant living in a country to culturally identify themselves with their original nationality, even if they regard country of residence as their home.

Although in Ireland, there has been racism and discrimination of migrant in the past, the government of Ireland has tried in so many ways to combat this, for example, a national consultative committee on racism and interculturalism was set up by the minister of Justice, Equality and law reform in July 1998 to develop programmes aim at developing an integrated approach to combat racism and discrimination and to support interculturalism. One of the programme which the committee came up with was ‘True Colours’ initiative which was a two week event which focuses on the inclusion of refugee and asylum seekers, people of colour and ethnic minorities into the society (House of Oireachtas, 2007).

The intervention of the department of justice and law reform in 1999 also addressed the issue of integrating migrant which acknowledges that integration is a two way process and that migrant, Irish people and the state have duties and obligation to create a more inclusive society (House of Oireachtas 2007)

Integration of migrants requires a willingness to adapt to the lifestyle of Irish society without abandoning one’s own cultural identity. Entzinger and Biezeveld, (2003) acknowledged this earlier. When people migrate they take their culture with them. Migrants have different cultures and these cultures are hard to let go even when they are in other countries. For example in Ireland , Irish people going out to pub to socialise, their religion is mainly catholic, they love to celebrate St. Partrick’s day, they associates green colour with shamrock or leprechaun, while other cultures have different actions and behaviour and these action mean a lot to their identity. Cultures are difficult to let go, it is the way of life of people (Tovey and share, 2003). However, there are differences in the culture and identity of migrants. They identify themselves differently around nationality and ethnic affiliations which make the process of the formulation of community unclear example a group of people who emigrated from Africa would identify themselves as an African community, a child raised in Ireland might prefer to be known as an |African Irish. Some people might prefer to be identified by certain terms based on their experience and the situation they find themselves (Fanning and Rush, 2006). It is impossible for someone who migrated to Ireland to act exactly like an indigene of Ireland. For example in Ireland, Language and religion are the most important cultural attribute which people find very difficult to let go of and Ireland also stresses the importance of migrant retaining their culture and religious heritage as they believe everyone has the right to retain their identity as it makes them feel more at home (Entzinger and Biezeveld 2003)

In the world, there are lots of ethnic groups and different ethnic group protect their own culture, history and customs (Macionis and Plummer, 2008). There are five major components of culture: symbols, language, values, norms and material culture. Symbols are anything that carries a particular meaning recognised by people who share cultures. (Macionis and Plummer 2008 P.130) examples of symbols includes a wall of graffiti, a flashing red light and so on. Language is a system of symbols that allows members of a society to communicate with one another. (Macionis and Plummer 2008 P.131). An example includes spoken and written words which vary culturally. Values are the standards people have about what is good and bad, which vary from culture to culture (Macionis and Plummer 2008 P.134).values differ from culture to culture and underlines people’s beliefs. . Cultural values are inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. According to the functionalist sociologist, culture helps to integrate members and social groups of a society. The functionalist further acknowledges that norms and values of a society creates social bonds which gives stability and coherence in the society (Anderson and Taylor, 2006).Norms are rules and expectations by which a society guides the behaviour of its members. When people break the norms of their society it becomes a threat to the society and members of the society will be dealt with. Examples of norms include queuing, saying thank you and so on.

According to research by Integration and social inclusion of Ireland (2009), migrants living in Ireland are faced with some challenges. Living in a new environment is difficult, not to talk about living in a place with no family and friends. Such challenges includes, stereotyping and isolation, difficulty in communication due to English not being their first language, not having a sense of belonging to Ireland, poverty, cultural conflicts, balancing two cultures and unable to access information and participate. Another issue for migrant parents is not having paid jobs which can make it too difficult for them to fend for their families. Poverty is an issue that migrants and asylum seekers are faced with; Fanning, (2006) states that there are limited opportunities and entitlement for migrant. Community development and voluntary sectors aimed at reducing poverty and reducing social exclusion were challenged for the inability to meet up with the needs of migrant. Studies also realised that the people who worked in most multicultural network where Irish nationals. There were no migrants or foreigners which proved extreme social exclusion (Dublin inner city Partnership 2001 cited in Fanning, 2006).

The inflow of people from different countries coming into Ireland with different culture, has brought about integration, both migrant and indigenes especially the government has realise that to live successfully in the country integration is important and so the government in Ireland has developed policies to protect the migrants living in Ireland and also develop policies to ensure integration of the members of the country so as to have a stable and cohesive society. They have tried in lots of ways to stress the importance of migrant retaining their cultural and religious heritage (Enzinger and Biezeveld, (2003)

In January 2000, the minister of justice, Equality and Law Reform endorsed the report integration: a two way process. Due to racism and Discrimination, The report emphasised the need to promote integration of refugees and immigrants into the Irish society. In this report, integration is define as the ability to participate to the extent that the person needs and wishes in all the major components of society, without having relinquish his or her cultural identity.(Fanning, 2002 P.107)

The government has also developed policy aimed at promoting inclusiveness and at contesting racism faced by the black and ethnic minority communities in Ireland (Fanning 2002 P.108). National action plan against racism 2002-2008 is another strategy created by the government in Ireland , to promote integration in the communities many local authorities funded the plan through partnership with local authorities, community groups and service provider to plan, develop and implement integration and anti racism towards working with minority groups (The department of justice and equality 2011b).

There has been controversies weather Ireland is a country that promotes multiculturalism or interculturalism. Share and Tovey, 2003 states that a multicultural society like Australia recognises cultural diversity and appraisal of historical background of immigration while some multicultural society like Britain sees multiculturalism as politically mediated because it emphasises on the struggle of upper and lower class. Furthermore, Tovey and Share, (2003) acknowledges that Ireland promotes interculturalism.

Interculturalism means creating policy’s that promotes integration, understanding and interaction of different cultures through schools, institution and the state. Interculturalism tackles structural inequality and institutional racism. (Share and Tovey 2003, p. ) Integration policy in Ireland is based on an intercultural approach, it gives the migrants, indigenes, organizations, business and the state the rights and responsibilities to work alongside each other (The department of justice and equality. 2011a) for example the yellow flag programme which help provide issues of diversity in schools to ensure staff, student, parent and thee society integrate.(Integration Ireland 2010)

Integration and social inclusion of Ireland (2009), notes that migrants living in Ireland faces a lot of challenges out of feeling displaced in the society. It is acknowledged that some migrants suffer low self esteem because of racism and discrimination. Integration Ireland, (2010), fanning (2002) acknowledged that migrants suffer from racism. Though policies have been created around such issues but we can’t hide the fact that discrimination still exist in Ireland.

Ireland has been criticised for poorly developed immigration policies. This is because Ireland is new to immigration issues and over the past only few migrants lived in Ireland. Castle and Miller, 1998 stated that the experience of migrants is shaped by politics and practice of the society. Mac Einrin 2001 states that there is lack of planning from migrants and political issues have been hostile and discriminatory towards migrants.

With the increasing population of migrants in Ireland, Fanning and Rush (2006) critically analysed that there should be effective development of important policies and services and these should respond adequately to the needs and levels of social exclusion or inequality that migrants face like for example, there was absence of ethnicity question in the 2000 census which was not rectified until 2006. They added that there was a dearth of accurate data on demographic or baseline data during the census. Ireland as a country has been undergoing significant changes in social, political and institutional related issues such is the citizenship application. Not until recently did Ireland have a high speed of naturalisation applications granted. Before now, naturalisation took thirty six months to be processed (Integration Ireland 2010). Minister Alan Shatter in 2011 introduced a new citizenship processing reform to reduce the number of backlogs of applications. The new application process now takes six months (Department of Justice and Equality 2011).

Fanning and Rush, (2006) also acknowledged that there has been a shift in the topics and research of immigrants because there has been changes in the policies and development around matters relating to migrants. Research is now based around service provisions, community development, education, criminal justice, work, employment and social exclusion. Formally, research would be based on asylum seeking and human right issues. So we could argue that people are taking residence and more commitment needs to increase in the area of integration.

Some migrants have come to Ireland with no or little English language. Migrant’s inability to express themselves in English has disempowered them. It causes low self esteem, inability to contribute to labour force (social Inclusion, 2011). Family conflict can arise from a parent unable to help with the child homework, unable to interact properly with children’s friends or parents. This can cause isolation of a family. Migrant who could not speak English would most of the time depend on their children to interpret. However, the integration and social inclusion Ireland (2011) says learning English makes life in Ireland less stressful and so socialising with Irish and making friends becomes easy, and so opportunities for employment and training will be created. Migrant will be able to find and get jobs thereby increasing their self -esteem and self-worth.

Some Migrant feel isolated because they feel they are not part of the society as they miss families and friends who can give them a sense of belonging. Integration Ireland, (2010) acknowledge this on an interview with a student from Mauritius. He stated he was happy but always felt sad returning to Ireland whenever he visited home. Migrants find it difficult to maintain their culture and religion and so integration becomes so difficult for them.

Findings have shown that there are different views to integration issues in Ireland. Some migrants feel that integration of migrants is difficult, most migrant feel very unsafe in the society, so they restrict themselves in the society because of racism and discrimination. This hinders them from engaging in lot of programmes, and finding a job for such migrants is also difficult (Integration Ireland 2010). On the other hand, some migrants acknowledged that integration in Ireland is easy as people are friendly and love socializing but they still feel more comfortable in their home country.

Due to the increase in the number of ethnic minority in the fingal county council, integration policy need to be put in place, monitored and effectively developed to ensure a culturally integrated society (Fingal Ethnic network, 2011) Fingal ethnic network is a programme that help migrant integrate into the community, it encourages a forum of diverse group to speak as one, to develop coherent plan and purposes on reflection of social cultural and economic need of migrant in the community.

Fingal Ethnic network influence, plan and inform policy to encourage participation of network members and also to learn from other peoples experience and theirs. They give feedback to and from their net work about policies and initiatives that concern migrant on a local and national level. They have created avenue for integration through workshops and events (Fingal Ethnic network 2011).

The Fingal county council have helped in raising awareness on cultural integration. There are lots of activities put in place to encourage cultural integration like given grants under the Art Act 2003 for community culture, sports and festivals. People show off their culture, by dressing up, displaying foods, souvenirs, life music, and there are opportunities to ask questions. The criteria for this grant is that the activity most take place within the Fingal county council, must stimulate interest within the community, promote appreciation and practices of members of the community to ensure it improves the quality of life of all members of the fingal county community and finally contribute positively to the cultural life of Fingal county council.

Another programme is the youth sport grant, which primarily focuses on sport for young people in Fingal county council to ensure people are socially and culturally included in the community. This grant is funded by the Irish sport council through the Fingal county council. (Fingal county council 2010)

The office of the minister of integration in December 2010 supported the Fingal integration funding scheme which is a scheme used to assist new or established project or initiative to support integration under this scheme, applicant must promote, support the integration and participation of migrants in the social economic, political and cultural life of members of the Fingal county council community. The initiative should support legal migrant, promote dialogue, interaction and understanding within members of the wider community. The initiative should also promote intercultural events at a local level and must support local labour market. For example, The Grantmakers concerned with immigration and refugees, (2008) says Integration contribute to a diverse and enriched society, as society gets more cohesive as people understand cultural differences and beliefs thereby helping the economic productivity and performance


Gathering information

Information regarding cultural integration was sought from members of Clonee community in Dublin 15. A participatory in depth interview was carried out with Parents and Guardians from different nationalities and works of life with different culture and educational background regarding cultural integration issues. Information was sought from four members in the community. (A polish, an Irish, a Congolese, a Ghanaian, and a Nigeria). Participants were chosen from different street in clonee. The researcher had to knock on people’s door after official hours to explain her research. Some people agreed to be part of it and others refuse to be part. The researcher chose people that understand a bit of English language for easy interaction out of those who agreed to participate although the researcher made sure simple words were used to ask the questitions and take time to explain terms anyone found difficult to understand. The participants were approached mostly at home after working hours in the comfort of their own homes to ensure they are relaxed and comfortable. The method proved a little difficult because the timing was a bit awkward, it was also stressful as the researcher had to walk from one house to the other to conduct the interview. Although the informal interview was not more than thirty minutes for each participant it went on for about two weeks as pinning down and getting access to participant proved a little difficult. Most of the participants were from Africa while the others were from Europe. There were three female participants and one male participants. The participant’s age range were between 25 years to 45 years. Three of the participants were asylum seekers who now have resident permit (stamp 4), one is a programme refugee (person admitted to Ireland under family reunification programme), one a migrant workers and the last participant was an Irish by birth most of these participants are professionals in different fields. Participant 1 was a doctor, participant 2, was a nurse, participant 3 was a social care worker, participant 4 was a taxi driver, The researcher made sure she assures the participant of anonymity and confidentiality.


There are two main types of research methodology namely qualitative and quantitative methodology. A quantitative research is based on evidence that is factually collected through surveys and questionnaires.

However, in this research, the researchers chose a qualitative research method.The researcher felt the qualitative research method is more adequate and suitable for the research topic at


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