4.1 Caring Communities: Integrating Newcomers into the Labour Market

Project info

Integration of newcomers into existing communities has been an ongoing process throughout the ages. And yet, migrant newcomers in the current day and age often find their path towards integration littered with a variety of obstacles. To understand better what the integration process for migrant newcomers looks like, the current dissertation utilises a new approach: combining historical studies with contemporary psychological experiments. The focal group of newcomers studied in this dissertation is doctors, whose integration process is studied in 18th century Amsterdam and 21st century Europe. It turns out that migrant doctors do not only have to deal with novel and specific institutional arrangements when moving to a new city or country, but also with specific and often hidden psychological responses of patients towards them as doctors. Importantly, the place where a doctor was educated influences the extent to which patients accept them, and therefore has consequences for their integration. This insight opens the door to policy aimed at making medical educational institutions more accessible for migrant doctors, and also to psychological interventions targeting patients' perceptions of migrant doctors.
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Behavioral theory
  • Identities
Utrecht University
Utrecht University
Utrecht University
  • Cooperation
  • Employees
  • Newcomer
  • Organisation science
  • Psychology
  • Social psychology
Work package
  • Inclusion
Sustainability threat
  • External Shocks
  • Feedback Cycles
  • Accommodating newcomers
Theoretical background
This project is strongly question-driven, meaning that it uses a combination of theories from migration studies, social history and social psychology to explore its central question. More specifically, the historical chapters focus on how entry barriers to historical institutions such as craft guilds and cities impacted migration patterns of skilled migrants between said guilds and cities, and their eventual settlement and integration. The psychological chapters draw from social psychological theory about stereotyping and interpersonal perception to explore in a contemporary setting how these psychological factors impede or facilitate integration of skilled migrants into their professional work sphere. To tie it all together, the general introduction of the dissertation attempts to develop its own theoretical framework about the phenomenon that is integration, drawing from a range of academic disciplines.
Research design
In four empirical chapters, this dissertation addresses the following question: What are the institutional-, group-, and individual-level aspects of the process leading to mutual acceptance between migrant doctors and their social surroundings? The first two chapters take a historical approach, and focus on the integration of skilled workers in 18th century Holland. The Amsterdam Surgeons’ Guild takes centre stage, and how its institutional conditions facilitated migrants to become full-fledged surgeons. While the Guild maintained an open stance towards migrants, it also placed heavy emphasis on local education, resulting in the finding that migrants had a good chance to make career as a surgeon in Amsterdam, but only if they had been educated there within the guild. Taking this finding to the 21st century, the latter two chapters investigate how receiving education in the country of destination affects the way in which migrant doctors perceive themselves, and how they are perceived by patients. The results indicate that migrant doctors develop a specific image of what it means to be a doctor during their education in the country of destination. Patients, in turn, recognise that a doctor’s place of education likely affects their competence, and are thus more willing to accept migrant doctors who have been educated in the country of destination. In conclusion, by combining findings from history and psychology, the current dissertation was able to uncover how institutional arrangements like place of education could impact psychological processes at the group and individual level, which together determine the ease with which migrant doctors can integrate into the professional sphere of their country of destination.
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