Engaging publics in research on migrant integration: challenges and opportunities

Authors: Mary Gilmartin*, Maynooth University
Topics: Migration, Qualitative Methods, Europe
Keywords: migration, migrant integration, public engagement, Ireland
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2016, 17% of the Republic of Ireland's resident population was born outside the country, an increase from 10% in 2002. Despite this increase, the broader question of migrant integration has received limited academic or political attention. Our research project aimed to address migrant integration in the Republic of Ireland, and to consider more spatially and socially nuanced approaches to exploring, measuring and explaining levels of migrant integration than currently exist. In doing so, we engaged with a wide range of publics, including community organisations, service providers and policy makers, to develop and refine our understanding of migrant integration. This included seminars where we co-produced alternative measures of integration, workshops where we provided training on finding and presenting alternative data on integration, and consultation sessions on the relationship between levels of integration and settlement services. In this paper, we reflect on the process of engaging publics. We discuss some key challenges we encountered, which included developing relationships of trust with community organisations and service providers, engaging effectively with policy makers, and negotiating the tensions that emerged as a state-funded research project identified gaps and inconsistencies in how the state facilitated and measured integration. We also discuss the new opportunities for public engagement that occurred during the research project, through the creative use of data and the emergence of new coalitions and networks. We conclude that engaging publics in research provides important insights into the processes and outcomes of knowledge production, but requires that underlying power dynamics are acknowledged and addressed.

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