WP106 Whose integration?

Bryers, Winstanley & Cooke


What does the term ?integration? mean to adult ESOL learners? What facilitates their sense of belonging in the UK? What are the barriers they face? What are their opinions about anti-migrant policy and rhetoric? The ?Whose Integration? project explored these questions over a period of five weeks in two ESOL classes, using a participatory approach. This report shows that students found ?integration? a difficult term to define, but nevertheless a pertinent one. They expressed anxiety about ways of belonging to their local communities and about how to position themselves in relation to religious, gender, economic and ethnic categories. It also shows that migrants face material barriers to integration such as racism, poverty and immigration status. The classroom data suggested that ?integration? is not a fixed state which people attain or fail to attain, but is instead a dynamic process. In the classroom, students and teachers alike were involved in the act of integrating, dealing with difference, dissent and commonality within and across ethnic groups. Students and teachers displayed multiple identities and allegiances which were national, local, gender based and religious, not all of which were equally salient at all times. Participatory ESOL classes offered a challenging, but safe environment for critical debate and discussion, which in turn, fostered the development of language beyond students? designated levels. The report concludes that integration is not a one-way street, or even a two-way street between migrant and ?host? community but is as complex and multi-directional as a ?Spaghetti Junction?.