El Ejido (Spain) is a small city whose fruit and vegetables’ production industry attracts an everincreasing number of migrants every year. This has provoked an intense demographic change in a short period of time and, although migrants have been settling in the city for many years now, a lack of social cohesion can be found in the city. This research contributes to the study of governance of migration-diversity in small cities that, as El Ejido, experience economic decline, outmigration of young people and ageing population. It is interesting to observe the dilemma on whether migrants are seen as potential for development or, instead, it is believed that their arrival leads to a lack of social cohesion. To do so, a policy analysis together with interviews with workers from the municipality of El Ejido and migrants themselves was done to understand governance of migrants’ integration in the municipality. Through studying the policy framing as well as the relationship dynamics between the municipality and migrants, we can observe how the problem of migrants’ integration has been defined and what actions have been taken to realise it. The study found that, although it is recognized that migrants are needed in terms of labour force, most of the measures taken are temporary ones and they are expected to adapt to the values and norms of the receiving society. The policies do not provide opportunities for interaction between the migrant and non-migrant population, which leads to an increase of negative stereotypes against newcomers. There also exist a difference in perception between higher-rank officials and front-line workers from the municipality: while the former ones focus on the cultural differences, mainly stemming from religion, the front-line workers have hardly experienced any conflict when working with the migrants.

Dr. Asya Pisarevskaya, Dr. Fiona Seiger
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Ana Lirola Fernandez. (2022, August 16). Local governance of migration-related diversity in small cities: the case of migrants’ integration in El Ejido (Spain). Public Administration. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/65962