Struggles for refugee and migrant inclusion - An ethnographic study into the practices and politics of ‘doing’ inclusion in civil society organizations

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2024-04-05
Degree programme
45 + app. 79
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL THESES, 62/2024
This dissertation examines the 'doing' of inclusion in the context of civil society organizations (CSOs) promoting the social inclusion of refugees and migrants. Extending knowledge of how practices of inclusion can foster social change is ever more pressing, yet existing studies show how organizational inclusion efforts risk becoming complicit in the logic of exclusion they seek to eradicate. Thus, broadening our understanding of these contradictions is of crucial importance. Building on an ethnographic study of three CSOs promoting the social inclusion of refugees and migrants in Berlin, Germany, this dissertation delves into the challenges and complexities inherent in the organizational practices of inclusion, as well as the struggles of organizational actors in responding to them. I address this research aim through three empirical studies. The first paper focuses on the constitution of the subject of inclusion through organizational discourse and practice and demonstrates how the intersectionally differentiated struggles for recognition and redistribution shape the inclusion project. The second paper explores how organizational actors engage in resistance as the everyday struggle to "do inclusion differently" and to challenge the constraining relations of power embedded in practices of inclusion. The third paper turns attention to care relations and practices as a site of struggle in which refugees and migrants negotiate inclusion through transformative claims-making for societal membership. The dissertation makes three main contributions to organization studies and the emerging field of critical inclusion studies. First, it broadens our understanding of the dynamics of power and politics connected to the struggles for inclusion in the socio-political context of refugee and migrant inclusion. Second, it advances knowledge of the complexities emerging from the inclusion-exclusion boundary drawing inherent in the practices of inclusion. Third, it helps us better understand the conditions of organizing inclusion in ways that can foster social change.
Supervising professor
Moisander, Johanna, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Management Studies, Finland
Thesis advisor
Eräranta, Kirsi, Dr., Aalto University, Department of Management Studies, Finland
inclusion, exclusion, diversity, refugees and migrants, civil society organizations
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: Kangas-Müller, Laura (2024) Dilemmas of recognition and redistribution: Constituting intersectional subjects of inclusion in migrant support work. Gender, Work & Organization.
    DOI: 10.1111/gwao.13109 View at publisher
  • [Publication 2]: Kangas-Müller, Laura; Eräranta, Kirsi & Moisander, Johanna (2024) Doing inclusion as counter-conduct: Navigating the paradoxes of organizing for refugee and migrant inclusion. Human Relations, 77(3), 299-328.
    DOI: 10.1177/00187267221145399 View at publisher
  • [Publication 3]: Kangas-Müller, Laura. Re-claiming care for inclusion. Perspectives for rethinking societal membership and participation. Unpublished manuscript.