Keeping Syrian refugees in Turkey is not a good idea: a new concept of ‘reluctant local integration’

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Whilst the state of precarity negatively impacts Syrian refugees in
Turkey, an increasing number of scholars suggest that Syrians are integrating well in that country due to cultural similarities and relatively
‘liberal’ refugee policies. This paper asks why this discrepancy occurs
between studies that depict a positive picture of integration and the
reality on the ground that approximately 40% of Syrians in Turkey want
to go to a country other than Syria and Turkey. The article explains this
contradiction by introducing a new-grounded theory of ‘reluctant local
integration’. Based on a sequential research design that is composed of
a thematic analysis of original fieldwork with 106 participants in the city
of Gaziantep and a follow-up theory-guided process tracing in wider
Turkey between 2015 and 2021, the article identifies original links
between three intertwined themes that lead to reluctant local integration. These are not only a by-product of temporary protection, and
unevenly distributed precarity in the economic milieu, but also a result
of similar types of ideological, ethnic and religious sectarianism that is
deeply rooted in both refugee and host communities in Turkey
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Early online date10 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The author(s). Published by informa uK limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons attribution-NonCommercial-Noderivatives license (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


Research for this article was supported by a grant from The Allan & Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust


  • Reluctant local integration
  • temporary protection
  • refugee
  • Turkey
  • Syrians

Institute themes

  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Migration, Displacement and Belonging


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