Action-Research on Vulnerable Groups and related profiles’ identification

Friday 28 February 2020

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The research features the concept of multiple and intersectional vulnerability and recognises the various forms of discrimination in opportunities for inclusion that one individual can be subject to within a multitude of system interacting contexts. Most of the interviewed HVG representatives don’t belong to one community but several, and this diversity, while being a source of strength, can also make a person a direct and indirect target for prejudice and discrimination. The concept of multiple discrimination not currently recognised in EU law, although EU directives do take into account that the six recognised forms of discrimination (gender, race and ethnic origin, religion and belief, disability, age and sexual orientation) can intersect. This mismatch between law and reality of human experience means that while all individuals are potentially vulnerable to multiple discrimination current legislation simplifies identity-related issues.

From cultures to contexts: much of what people manage to be depends on the Intersectional contexts in which they live, where several grounds operate and interact with each other at the same time in such a way that they are inseparable and produce specific types of vulnerability.

The influence of contexts on immigrants, however, in Italy is often mistaken for a purely cultural one or, even worse, the natural aspect of the person. This error produces racism and social exclusion, but above all it does not help to find solutions as this may lead to erroneous conclusions about the causes of the problems for integration. Tackling immigration by giving due weight to contexts may lead to reduce the distance between foreigners and natives.

The Vulnerable Groups’ (VG) potential for social inclusion achievements depend on a variable combination of five orders of factors.

  • Individual socio-demographic profile (variables such as gender, age, seniority of migration, labour market skills load and the ability to adapt as individual, family and community members).
  • Pre-migration resources (human, social, economic and cultural capital), as well as assets and backings thanks to family, relatives and friends.
  • In transit traumatic life experiences: crossing countries.
  • Current opportunities at arrival.
    • Territorial reception system (policies, services and personnel dedicated to integration, with various levels of accessibility and complexity).
    • Outsource extension and accessibility of welfare services in the health, education, employment, housing sectors.
    • Social assistance and role of civil society.
  • Inclusion System Contexts [HVG (a + b) and Actors (c)] [nteraction & Difficulties; Barriers for inclusion].


Vulnerable Groups: Communalities versus Differences [RAISD, 2019]

VG Communalities VG Differences
  • Legal status (considered as civic stratification)
  • Non-native speakers (different levels of linguistic distance by country of origin and social class)
  • Mainly subordinate social and economic position
  • Persistence of the reference, at least implicit, to the place / community of origin
  • No participation in decision-making
  • National and ethnic belonging
  • Pre-departure development conditions and biographical experiences
  • In-transit personal history
  • Human, social, cultural capital
  • Length of residence
  • Integration trajectories
  • Accessibility of quality systems and services
  • Migration planning (permanent, return oriented, circular, transitory, blocked)


Upcoming in Open Access (subscribe here to get a copy sent to your email):

  • Synthesis Report about vulnerability profiling & Vulnerability Contexts [Italy 2020]