Stream 24

The Refugee Crisis

Stream Convenor:
Europe is currently facing the largest inflow of refugees since the Second World War. Civil wars, dictatorship and the terror of the so-called Islamic State have forced an unprecedented number of people to leave their homes, and, whilst neighbouring countries such as Jordan or Turkey still bear the mammoth share, more refugees than ever before have also turned to Europe in hope of a life in peace and relative prosperity. 

These new mass migrations challenge social and migrant integration policies in Europe in several regards. Most obviously, many host countries seem overwhelmed by the number of newcomers and experience a near collapse of their usual social emergency response systems: housing, schooling and healthcare for migrants seem to be increasingly scarce and might constitute a source of fierce allocation battles in the future. Any financial and programmatic prioritisation of migrants’ social integration might be at the expense of the poor and socially excluded among the European resident population. More investment in social housing to serve refugees’ needs, as for example demanded in Germany or Austria, might trigger serious political backlashes or even violent attacks as the one recently suffered by a local politician in Cologne. At the same time, skyrocketing civil society activities have been vital in securing some of the refugees’ basic needs such clothing or emergency healthcare, and represent new horizons in European welfare provision. 

Papers in this stream will discuss the challenges for European social policies vis-à-vis the current refugee influx controversially from different angles. As integration represents a cross-cutting task, diverse empirical social policy foci are welcomed: e.g., healthcare, schooling, family policies, housing, or employment. Both empirical contributions, especially those with comparative ambitions, and more theoretical reflections are invited. Beyond discussing challenges for social policy provision, papers which examine new horizons and discuss more practical policy solutions are of particular interest to the stream.

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