Political Science and Classics | Branford College

Christina Pao
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Senior Essay Title: "Weighing Gender and Group Identity in Refugee Integration: A Gender Analysis of Super Volunteerism in Germany"

Adviser: Frances Rosenbluth

Abstract: As the number of refugees worldwide increases annually, many refugee-receiving countries struggle to create appropriate structures for integration—particularly given the heterogeneity of needs for refugees of different identities. Using over 40 interviews of civil society actors in Germany, I studied how different gender pairings between German volunteers and new-arrival refugees impacts who among the refugees is integrated into Germany and why. By using a 2x2 comparative framework (with German men/women on one axis, and refugee men/women on the other), I found that gender pairings of German volunteers and refugees can help predict positive or negative contact—and, thus, likely integration outcomes.

This work builds upon the existing literature of intergroup contact theory and my prior research on “Super Volunteerism”—a mechanism in which particularly active ingroup members (in this case, Germans) are able to serve as attitudinal liaisons between other ingroup members (Germans) and outgroup members (in this case, refugees). While my prior work has shown the positives of Super Volunteers (i.e., empathy building amongst hostile ingroup members), in this study, I introduce Super Volunteers’ potential for exclusionary gatekeeping—which I define as the ability to block “certain kinds” of refugees from integrating into a host country.