Social integration

Social integration is the process during which newcomers or minorities are incorporated into the social structure of the host society.[1]

Social integration, together with economic integration and identity integration, are three main dimensions of a newcomers' experiences in the society that is receiving them.[1] A higher extent of social integration contributes to a closer social distance between groups and more consistent values and practices.

Bringing together various ethnic groups irrespective of language, caste, creed, etc., without losing one's identity. It gives access to all areas of community life and eliminates segregation.

In a broader view, social integration is a dynamic and structured process in which all members participate in dialogue to achieve and maintain peaceful social relations. Social integration does not mean forced assimilation. Social integration is focused on the need to move toward a safe, stable and just society by mending conditions of social disintegration, social exclusion, social fragmentation, exclusion and polarization, and by expanding and strengthening conditions of social integration towards peaceful social relations of coexistence, collaboration and cohesion.[2]

Definition of integration

Integration was first studied by Park and Burgess in 1921 through the concept of assimilation. They defined it as "a process of interpenetration and fusion in which persons and groups acquire the memories, sentiments, and attitude of other persons and groups and, by sharing their experience and history, are incorporated with them in a common cultural life."[3]

While some scholars offered an assimilation theory, arguing that immigrants would be assimilated into the host society economically, socially and culturally over successive generations,[1] others developed a multiculturalism theory, anticipating that immigrants could maintain their ethnic identities through the integration process to shape the host society with a diversified cultural heritage.[4]

Extending from the assimilation theory, a third group of scholars proposed a segmented integration theory, stressing that different groups of migrants might follow distinct trajectories towards upward or downward mobility on different dimensions, depending on their individual, contextual and structural factors.[5][6]