Time Banks as Sustainable Alternatives for Refugee Social Integration in European Communities
In 2015, more than a million refugees crossed into Europe, which sparked an unprecedented displacement crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx. Two years after, people are still seeking to escape the terror of war and extreme poverty on a sea path to the European Union. Integration is the next challenge. While various governments sit on the inertia of the decision-making process, voluntary initiatives spike in many countries as creative ways to deal with what has been acclaimed as the refugee crisis. Community actions, such as in Scotland, provide cultural integration opportunities by introducing and matching refugees who are resettling to Europe with native people who have volunteered to help in adjusting to the local community; and in Sweden, where on large scale, the educational system is individualized to the specific needs of the refugees and facilitates the integration in the local labor market. In this pool of initiatives, time banking arises as a sustainable alternative for balancing social relations and improving social well-being while increasing the social capital. By redefining the concept of work and value of assets, it proofs itself as an ideal social dynamic that grounds on the equality, respect, and reciprocity values. It allows the refugee to work and be productive from the first moments in the country while absorbing the culture and social dynamics. The trade-offs are benefits that can be scaled up to the individuals involved, to the community, and to the country, to the level of empowering the sustainable community development.
KeywordsRefugee Refugee crisis Equality Integration Time bank Time banking Reciprocity Social capital Social empowerment Sustainable community development
- Cahn, E. S. (2000). No more throw-away people: The co-production imperative. Washington, DC: Essential Books.Google Scholar
- Flint, R. W. (2015). Practice of sustainable community development: A participatory framework for change. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Miller, E. J. (2008). Both borrowers and lenders: time banks and the aged in Japan. Ph.D. thesis Australian National University.Google Scholar
- Page, N., & Czuba, C. E. (1999). Empowerment: What is it? Journal of Extension, 37, 24.Google Scholar
- Waltz, K. (2010). Theory of international politics. Long Grove: Waveland Press.Google Scholar