In the years 2015 and 2016, Germany experienced a large immigration of asylum seekers. They were distributed all over the country and were also allocated to rural regions and small towns, which previously had been rarely touched by immigration. The arrival of asylum seekers challenged rural municipalities and local communities with regard to reception and integration structures, but also triggered new opportunities for rural development. The joint research project investigates how and under which conditions humanitarian engagement and rural development (can) interact, and how politics and civil society can influence this process positively. Based on the findings, the project also aims to develop policy recommendations for the integration of refugees in rural areas.
Our analytical framework was inspired by the integration model of Ager and Strang, which addresses the multidimensionality of integration. On this basis, we identified four dimensions for our empirical approach: regional integration potentials, the perspective of the refugees, local integration policy and the role of civil society.