Barbara FRANZ : Bosnian refugees and socio-economic realities : changes in refugee and settlement policies in Austria and the United States.

Journal article by Barbara Franz ; Published in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 29, 2003


Refugee studies scholars have emphasised that refugee law has become immigration law in the North/Western world. This shift in perspective emphasises borders rather than the protection of people. Comparatively little analytical work, however, has been done on the implications these legal and political changes have had on individual refugees. This article addresses some of these effects by comparing asylum, residence, and socio-economic problems of Bosnian refugees in Austria and the USA. It explores the underlying rationale of reception policies and the settlement support schemes primarily responsible for determining refugees’ status and eligibility for benefits. Though the two countries’ refugee relief schemes, the Austrian Bund-Lander Aktion and the American public-private partnership of refugee resettlement, were significantly different (the former restricted legal employment, the latter promoted early economic self-sufficiency), the Bosnian refugees in my sample actually adapted in quite a similar way in both countries. Individual initiative was found to have a much stronger impact than state policy.

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