Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Invisibility and (Dis)Integration: Examining the Meaning of Migrant Inclusion in Everyday Lived Experience in Rural Areas

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Abstract:  The settlement of migrants in rural areas that are facing population decline has gained increased attention in recent years as an economic, social, and political issue, as well as an opportunity for development for local communities. Studies have primarily focused on investigating whether and how migrants are integrated and included within these areas. This article adopts a fresh perspective by examining how the meaning of “integration” and “inclusion” is given shape by residents and migrant workers themselves. Our research centres on a small rural town in Sardinia, where individuals from Romania and West Africa have relocated to fill job positions traditionally held by Italians. Based on participant observation and in‐depth interviews, we examine the everyday experiences of residents and migrants to develop an understanding of the lived realities of integration and inclusion. In doing so, the article calls into question the perceived value of these processes for the very individuals that are supposed to benefit from them.

Keywords:  depopulation; exclusion; inclusion; integration; invisibility; lived experience; migrant workers; refugees; rural and remote areas; small towns



© Leila Giannetto, Shirley van der Maarel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.