Shifting Values? - Integration of Refugees in Austria

Symposium on 15 June 2016, Wiener Hofburg, Kleiner Redoutensaal

We are undergoing a period of major change and visible upheaval. The massive refugee movements have created new realities that face European states with substantial challenges. Compared with other European states Austria has taken in the highest per capita number of refugees over the last few years.

Integrating these people into the Austrian education system, the labour market and other central areas of life in our society is a task that requires major efforts from all parties. In addition, the field of refugee integration is characterised by cultures with social orders that are in many respects seen as being quite different from our own.

Successful integration means reaching out to each other, but is this guiding principle also applicable to fundamental criteria for values governing a society? It is a fact that Austrian integration strategy attaches major importance to the role of values in the integration process.  

Against the background of increasing refugee movements, the question of the common foundation needed by our society in view of augmenting plurality is of increasing importance. Are common values the key to the core of a society or is their relevance to living in peaceful and free coexistence in plurality with opportunities for all in fact somewhat overrated? How could values be communicated in practical terms?

How much capacity for integration is in fact inherent in our “European values”?


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