Immigrants and social networks: Cultural approach
Department for Social Work University of Zagreb - Faculty of Law Zagreb, Croatia
This paper is based on the comparative research project titled 'Welfare and Values in Europe: transitions related to religion, minorities, and gender', undertaken in twelve European countries. The project identifies three interconnected dimensions of social change in Europe, change related to religion, minorities, and gender, and examines these dimensions through the prism of welfare. On the base of the empirical qualitative research the paper will particularly focus on family, ethnic and religious minority organizations which appear to be main channels for realizing different social rights and in general for social orientation of immigrants. However, the focus on immigrant social networks, and particularly on the importance of separate religion and language, point to other important elements in studying of the position of immigrants in societies: immigration policy, position of non-governmental organizations inside the welfare state structure, general role of religion in society, role of social professionals, etc. The ambiguous role of such network is also important, they help individuals and communities but at the same time underline differences between minorities and majorities. The paper will also compare the situation of immigrant organizations and of access of immigrants to welfare rights in different states, and will argue about inadequacy of the welfare state approach in studying the position of immigrants in different societies.