Leaving – Persevering – Arriving: A transdisciplinary survey of the recent situation of refugees in Austria

The project will be carried out by the “Network for Refugee Outreach and Research” (ROR-n) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and intends to make an important contribution to a more objective public discourse about refugees based on scientific data. A transdisciplinary perspective will be ensured by the cooperation of experts from urban and regional research, migration research, political science and Iranian studies.

Social network theories and theories of ethnicity are the most important theoretical approaches. Practically oriented, the project aims to develop policy recommendations in the form of feasible good-practice measures for stakeholders and proposals for sustainable solutions in various spheres of integration. Furthermore, the results of this project will be incorporated into a panel study covering an investigation period of more than five years.

In terms of methodology, 135 partially structured narrative biographical interviews with respondents from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are planned. Native speakers in Kurdish (Sorani, Badini), Syrian and Iraqi Arabic, Pashto and Farsi-Dari will conduct the interviews. Forty respondents will be interviewed a second time within the duration of the project. For a systematic analysis and comparison of the relevance of the spatial context on the integration paths of the refugees, data acquisition will take place in Vienna as well as in smaller Austrian communities. Focus group discussions and a sample of expert interviews are planned to further supplement the data pool, to check the results and derive perspectives of action. Thus, political and administrative representatives, religious authorities, stakeholders, social workers, and representatives of NGOs and migrant associations etc. will also be involved.

Further key aims include the compilation of a unique Austrian data pool, initializing mutual learning processes and fostering scientific exchange and cooperation with institutions in countries with a longer tradition of refugee immigration, such as Germany and Sweden on the one side and Austria’s Eastern European neighboring countries (Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary) on the other side. The distinguishing innovative feature of this project lies in its transdisciplinary nature and in the close interdependencies between research-oriented and practical goals. This should lead to results that are relevant to the social sciences, stakeholders, political decision makers and refugees.