How and to what extent does the Catholic Church contribute to the integration of migrant workers from Eastern Europe into the local community, the job market and the civil society? This is the main research question of the research project «Ora et labora», a joint venture between the Department of Religion at Volda University College and Møreforsking Research Institute.
The North-Western part of Norway has in recent years received a large number of migrant workers. Many of them come from countries with a strong Catholic tradition. The parish of “Vår Frue” (“Our Lady”) in Ålesund is one of the fastest growing Catholic communities in Norway. Through a study of this parish, we want to explore the significance of the Catholic Church for Polish migrants living in rural North-Western Norway. The methods employed include ethnographical methods (interviews, observation), historical methods, questionnaires, and analysis of documents and register data.
Religion and religious communities may be an important factor in facilitating migrants’ striving to cope with their new situation and new environment. However, this is an understudied field within migration studies. In Europe, research on migrant religion has had a strong focus on Islam and has mainly been conducted in urban areas. Still, many migrants come from a Christian background, and a significant number settle in more rural areas. Our study will be a contribution to a fuller picture of the role of religion for integration into Norwegian society.
The project period is two years, 2014-2016. The research group is led by Prof. Dr Anders Aschim, Volda University College, and includes scholars with training in religious studies, history, geography, sociology and cultural anthropology, as well as two master students (MA). The project is funded by Møreforsking Research Fund.
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