• Emilia Liv Buch-Andersen
  • Marie Amalie Rosentoft Jein
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
In 2015, the Danish government announced the implementation of a new social benefit, called ‘integration benefit’, which is mainly targeted towards refugees and immigrants. This new benefit is around half of what other unemployed groups receive. This has caused much debate, however the voices and opinions of refugees are seldom heard. Focusing solely on the experiences of Syrian refugee families, this thesis sets out to examine how they experience living on this new integration benefit and thereby sheds light on an angle rarely presented: the refugees’.  

In order to get an understanding of how it is experienced, the empirical data of this thesis is based on interviews conducted with Syrian refugees from 12 different families. To explain and understand their experiences expressed during the interviews, the thesis draws on Marianne Holm Pedersen’s concept of ‘class journey’, which functions as the theoretical frame. The concept is used to understand the changes that the Syrian refugees on integration benefit experience, in relation to three dimensions: their economic position, their relationship to the surrounding society and lastly their family relations.
The thesis is structured around three analytical chapters inspired by the aforementioned dimensions.

In the first of the three-part analysis, we demonstrate how our informants find themselves in a tight economic situation, where they struggle to make ends meet. This is felt in sharp contrast to their old life in Syria, where they did not experience material deprivation.

The second part elucidates how our informants experience finding themselves in what seems to be an unequal reciprocal relationship with the surrounding society. This was apparent in relation to the lack of acknowledgement they experience when being obliged to complete random internships, where their competencies are overlooked and their manpower is being taken advantage of. Additionally, our informants experience the integration programme as stressful and controlling of their time, due to the fixed schedule. Furthermore, the way they find themselves being portrayed and perceived as freeloaders and “desert-people” by the surrounding society, adds to the experience of not being acknowledged or recognised.

The third and last part of our analysis shows how the restricted economic situation challenges the husbands in living up to the ‘hegemonic masculinity’ as the provider. The women, simultaneously, expressed how they find it troublesome that their husbands are no longer able to take care of them financially. Additionally, the thesis demonstrates that being on integration benefit challenges our informants ‘intergenerational relationship’ with their children, as they struggle to provide for their children’s needs.
Publication date31 Jul 2017
Number of pages78
ID: 261128378