Volume 12, 2020
The Stranger in Immigrant Integration
This paper suggests that Alfred Schutz’s account of systems of typification together with Sara Ahmed’s account of the proximity of the stranger allows for a different understanding of social integration. The paper proposes to rethink the political and social relationship of the in-group and the stranger, approached through the face-to-face encounter between an integration counselor and an immigrant. The encounter offers a disruption of what is taken for granted by the in-group and functions as a catalyst for a system of reference to appear at all. Through Ahmed’s account on the familiarity and proximity of the stranger, I argue that integration practices are considered to produce, rather than translate, a coherent system of reference for an in-group. The institutionalization of social integration is consequently risking concealing the “unintegratable” stranger rather than offering a solution for the more epistemological dimensions of social exclusion that we find in the experience of sameness and difference.