02 SES 04 A, Inclusion of Individuals with Migrant Background
Integration educational training for refugees and immigrants in Finland is claimed to be elaborated based on the idea of equality and towards inclusion (FMEE 2016; Finnish Integration Act 2010). However, as Castles et al. (2002) mention, integration “seemed to represent a kind of medicine that newcomer should take in order to ‘fit in’” (124). Which means that they have to conform according to a set of rules and practices to successfully be included. This process does not give refugees and immigrants a voice. The first step towards “inclusion” is participating in integration training. Refugees and immigrants are guided towards vocational training through a top down process which - in most cases – an employment officer decides what skills they should learn in order to become integrated (Masoud et al. submitted). Precise integration policy objectives and processes that should be achieved in a short time are designed for those who are seen as problematic and in need for help (Penninx 2009). Integration in this sense includes with it aspects of social inclusion but at the same time is used as “an instrument of power” (Anthias et al. 2013).
Against this backdrop, integration becomes a governing tool, and thus I utilize a Foucauldian understanding on governmentality to understand how refugees as well as educational institutions and teachers are governed and become part of the integration training machinery (Dean 2010; Rose 1999; Foucault 1982; 1991). Governing and intervention is easier on “others” who are considered different in order to become governed in relation to the collective. Refugees and immigrants from specific countries are considered opposite to the progressive West and are positioned in the Western discourse as non-employable subjects, in need of further skilling and education (Masoud et al. Submitted). Berglund (2008) mentions that the unemployed is usually constituted as the “undesirable other” who is incapable of fulfilling the requirements of the knowledge-based society, and in need of “societal measures” (Fejes & Berglund 2010). Therefore, integration training aiming towards inclusion, through educational training and guidance, could become “a rationality of exclusionary inclusion” (Vesterberg, 2016). Vesterberg posits that in the process towards achieving inclusion, differences and otherness is produced. Consequently, refugees and immigrants are constructed as excluded (Vesteberg 2016), despite the fact that they are “included”, by being part of the integration training. By constructing the refugee/immigrant as in need for further skilling and education – despite their previous skills and qualifications (cf. Forsander 2008) – integration training as a measure towards inclusion becomes a justification to whatever challenges refugees/immigrants are facing, as this seems to be the only way for them to integrate and become includable. Therefore, in this paper, the aim is to show how governing through integration training could work as a form of exclusionary inclusion.
This article is based on ethnographic data that has been produced during the year 2017 and 2018 as part of my Phd study. I have been attending two different vocational institutions and conducting interviews with 25 Arabic speaking refugees and immigrants, 5 teachers/trainers and 2 project managers, as well as 3 policy makers. The study focuses on integration policies and training practices for refugees and immigrants in Finland. I utilize Foucault’s discursive approach (Bacchi & Bonham 2014; Foucault 1972) to analyze the discursive practices produced through integration training, and how refugees and teachers/trainers are governed. To govern means to shape the behavior of the subject through mechanisms of how and what the others should be, and what they should learn (Foucault 1982; Olssen 2006). In addition, governing is a “way of behaving”, where opportunities and possibilities through power relations could as well exist within discursive practices of integration (Foucault 1982). Hence, power, in the context of governmentality, is not only suppressive but also produces and shapes individuals (cf. Kurki, Masoud, Niemi, Brunila 2018). In this sense, the individual’s capability is reformed (Miller and Rose 2008; Dean 1995).
Integration training is considered as an intervention and a way to activate those who are considered “different”. It bounds refugees and immigrants to be appreciative to whatever is provided to them, and they lose the chance “to articulate different rules of engagement”. Being in integration training means that the individual has to become a student all over again. While on one hand, participants felt that they had to learn how to perform, and show how interested they were in such training, in order to be eligible, includable, and not left out of the integration process. Teachers and project managers, on the other hand, believe that those who got accepted in integration training, was due to the fact that they managed to show how motivated they were to study in the vocational program. Performing also becomes part of the individual’s integration process. Taking into consideration that most of the interviewees were participating in vocational education that does not suit their previous experiences and skills. The pressure to find any program is to prove that they are active, and avoid losing their unemployment benefits. Institutions that are providing integration training become also governed by the integration system. One of those institutions had funding for immigrant education. The vocational program lasts from two to three years. While the institution was able to secure funding for the first year, they could not do so for the next year. It had to start selecting, among those students – who seemed were able to “perform” well – in order to continue their education. While for the others it was proposed that they would go back to take language courses again.
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