Meeting Halfway? The Moral Dilemma of Muslim Migrants Engaging in the Austrian Labor Market

Qamar Ali, Zeeshan Hamid & Zubair Ahmad Chaudhry (2021)

Indian Journal of Economics and Business, 20(1), pp. 535-551. Open access.

Abstract. Most of the studies on the labour market integration of migrants in Europe have hitherto focused on host countries’ efforts to foster integration and the consequent effectiveness of these efforts. This study, however, emphasises on the much-needed migrant-side of the integration process to explore migrants perceived cultural challenges and their corresponding ability to deal with these challenges. With the help of a series of in-depth interviews targeted at exploring the lived experiences of highly skilled Muslim migrants settled in Innsbruck, this study shows that the religious beliefs and value systems, rather than the ability to speak and understand the local language, mainly hinder Muslim migrants from fully integrating into the Austrian society. Using the framework of French pragmatic sociology of conventions, the study further articulates that in order to be perceived as ‘included’ migrants use the instrument of compromise at three levels of extent, i.e., liberation, selective adaptation, and simulation. Some migrants are able to get liberated and they bring themselves closer to the local value system at the ontological and ideological level (liberation). Others change a few selective principles (values) to make use of most of the integration opportunities (selective adaptation). And yet at another level of compromise, some migrants pretend in the public as if they are very close to the local norms while in actual continuously believing in their originating belief systems and keep disliking the value system of the host country from deep within (simulation).

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