The Integration of Refugees into Croatian Society. Ethnographies of Exercising Rights
Refugees who are beneficiaries of international protection in Croatia are granted rights, the implementation of which is discussed in this article, based on qualitative research methods conducted between February 2015 and September 2017. The article discusses how these granted rights are exercised by individuals – persons who have been granted asylum in Croatia. The research is based on an ethnography of the particular, involving participant observation and open and semi-structured interviews with refugees and representatives of institutions and organizations involved in integration. The main Croatian legislative act valid during the research period was partially implemented. Its implementation was the most problematic in an area that refugees consider as essential for integration: the provision of state-supported Croatian language courses. Other problematic areas for exercising rights were access to healthcare and to the education system. The article also compares the research findings with the results of migrants’ and refugee studies completed in (mostly) Western European countries. Besides similarities with such studies, this research acknowledges the importance of a local context for integration and introduces a new, existential dimension of integration that proved to be crucial for the successful integration of refugees in Croatia.