The New Diversity in Denmark: Integration Challenges for Danes, Immigrants and Refugees

By Linda S. Fair.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Forty years ago Denmark had very few residents of non-Nordic extraction, but since then a flood of immigrants, refugees and their family members have changed the social dynamic between “native” Danes and “outsiders.” Seeking ways to cope with this challenge, Denmark has in the last ten years focused on how best to “integrate” its immigrants. A perusal of Danish research literature reveals that “integration” is an elusive and multi-faceted term; yet it is used in a specific manner by the Danish government. Its stance is that employment equals integration. Once an immigrant or refugee obtains a job, then that individual is “integrated.” Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were held in Copenhagen with government officials and in the County of North Jutland with refugees, Danish language instructors, job counselors and volunteer workers to determine the extent to which the Danish government was succeeding with its policies. The focus on economic integration left many social issues unaddressed and even the limited government goal of “economic integration” is not being achieved. Given numerous barriers to the employment of immigrants, the interviewed refugees faced the choice of either remaining in their assigned municipalities and continuing to receive social welfare benefits or moving away from the municipalities in search of employment. Either choice meant a lack of economic assimilation in their assigned placement, essentially discrediting Danish policy. The paper concludes with possible alternative approaches to the integration of refugees and immigrants into Danish society.

Keywords: Europe, Denmark, Immigration Policy, Economics, Spatial Dispersal Policy, Integration, Diversity, Refugees

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.225-238. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.153MB).

Dr. Linda S. Fair

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, USA

Linda S. Fair is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Binghamton University. Her academic credentials include a Doctoral degree in Geography from Rutgers, a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Bachelor of Arts in French and Sociology from Rice University. Her academic specialty is cultural geography with concentrations in migration, assimilation discourse and spatial dispersal policies. She also has interests in globalization, Europe, the European Union, Scandinavia, and geographic perspectives on women. Her research on immigrants and refugees in Denmark was funded by the American-Scandinavian Foundation and supported by the Danish National Institute for Social Research and the Academy for Migration Studies in Denmark (AMID).

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