Tracing the integration trajectories of diverse Spanish citizens in the UK

McCarthy, Helen Naomi Jessica (2019) Tracing the integration trajectories of diverse Spanish citizens in the UK. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the integration experiences of Spanish citizens who have arrived in the UK in the last decade. That period saw an increase in migration from Spain and a diversification of the flow. Among Spanish citizens coming to the UK there is a variety of class, ethnic and national backgrounds, including many individuals on their second migration. However, studies have tended to overlook this diversity and rarely look at immigration from Western Europe through the lens of integration. The concept of integration has received much merited criticism but new conceptualisations, grounded in empirical realities, have highlighted the dynamic, multi-directional and processual nature of the phenomenon. Drawing on these ideas, the project’s aim was to explore to what extent these conceptualisations were effective in accounting for the integration trajectories of diverse Spanish citizens. Building on the new conceptualisations that have framed the study, I propose thinking of ‘interactional integration’: a series of multi-directional, interactional processes that constitute a continual renegotiation of identity and belonging. The study adopted a mixed-methods design based on the pragmatism paradigm, and used an online, self-administered survey and in-depth, semi-structured interviews to explore integration in three main domains: employment, social life, and language. The findings revealed a range of integration trajectories as well as a large number of interactions between the domains. Language, in particular, with its dual role as both a medium of communication and a marker of social identity, mediated experiences in the other areas. Different forms of capital – economic, social and cultural – played an important role in configuring how integration trajectories unfolded. These trajectories were also shaped by past migration history and the ways that citizenship was accessed, highlighting that citizens do not all start in the same positions. Legal status, and the rights that underpin it, is thus key to integration, but remains contingent – as the ongoing Brexit process has revealed. This contingency can foster feelings of ontological insecurity highlighting the multi-directionality of integration processes. I conclude by developing a conceptual map of ‘interactional integration’ and arguing that integration is a concept that still has a place for capturing the full range of experiences across multiple domains.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Social Policy Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 30869
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2020 09:32
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2021 13:17
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/30869

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