Becoming part of a new community: encounters, meeting spaces and hospitality
María Hernández Carretero
(University of Oslo)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyzes how newcomers become part of a local community. I explore what meeting arenas exist, structured and spontaneous, and what role both civil society organizations and the welfare state, through the boroughs, take on to promote such arenas for interaction and community development.
Paper long abstract:
This paper analyzes dynamics of incorporation and belonging at a neighbourhood and city level to explore how newcomers (particularly immigrants and refugees) come to be, and feel, part of the local community. I explore what meeting arenas exist, structured and spontaneous, and what role both civil society organizations (such as NGOs) and the welfare state, through administrative structures at the level of the boroughs, play in promoting such arenas for interaction and community development. I do so on the basis of an ethnographic study of arenas (spaces and activities) that facilitate interaction at a neighbourhood and city-level in Oslo, Norway. This includes activities that are explicitly aimed at incorporating immigrants in the community (e.g. language cafés) and others where people of different backgrounds simply meet based on a shared interest (e.g. gardening). I explore, on the one hand, attitudes to and engagement with refugee and immigrant reception among members of the "host" community, looking at how ideas about community, otherness and inclusion shape attitudes to newcomers, and whether these evolve through spontaneous encounters and participation in shared activities. I also address how recently arrived immigrants and refugees themselves experience being part of a new community, how they seek to interact with the established population and what obstacles and positive experiences they meet in this process. I discuss the relationship between spontaneous interaction and participation in structured activities, that is, for instance, whether individuals seek out structured activities as a complement, alternative, or way into unstructured forms of hospitality and interaction.
Uncertain solidarities: migration, social incorporation, and European welfare states