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Educating newcomers to the welfare state. Organizational responses to migration 1960s-2010s and their influence on Danish central policy

See Danish version here

Upon arrival to Denmark, migrants first encounter the Danish welfare state when starting language instruction, being accommodated housing and, for refugees, when being received in asylum centers. Frontline organizations that operate these tasks are crucial mediators of welfare state politics directed towards migrants. The NGOs organizing language schools, social housing and asylum reception have thus played a key role as educators of migrants on what becoming part of the Danish welfare state means. We lack knowledge concerning how educational integration practices in frontline organizations have developed and influenced central policy. By means of an interdisciplinary research design combining education science, welfare state history and political science the project explores how frontline organizations from the late 1960s to the 2010s have practiced the task of educating immigrants for their lives in Denmark, and how these practices have influenced and possibly changed central policy.

Research team

Mette Buchardt (PI) Professor and Head of Centre for Education Policy Research at Department of Culture and Learning leads together with Karen N. Breidahl (CO-PI), Associate professor at Department for Politics and Society, this 3 1/2 year project on the history of frontline organizations' impact on Danish welfare state development.

The project consists of four workpackages, where postdoc Sophy Bergenheim studies how language instruction was organized by Danish Refugee Council over a 50-year period from the 1960s to the 2010s. Professor Mette Buchardt studies the cooperative housing association AAB's "Ishøj-planen" from it's establishment in 1970 and until the 2010s when the Government introduced "ghetto lists". The third workpackage is a PhD project by Siv Holm Hansen who studies Red Cross Denmark that was a key operator for asylum reception from 1984 and onwards, where she will focus on one of the oldest Danish asylum centers that has operated for over 30 years. Lastly, drawing e.g. on the findings from the three previous workpackages, Associate professor Karen N. Breidahl will explore the possible exchanges and the development of central policy and of central policy and welfare state dynamics.

Advisory boards

Project start and end date:

01/08/2022 to 31/01/2026


Principal investigator
Mette Buchardt
Phone: (+45) 9940 3424