Lower Benefits to the Refugees in Denmark: Missing Recognition?

Flora Gosh, Søren Juul


This article is a study of the contrast between the Danish law concerning reduced economic benefits for newly arrived refugees and immigrants (known as Start Help or as introductory benefit) and the idea of recognition as the condition for individual self-realization and justice. Our assumption is that Start Help both implies economic discrimination against newly arrived persons in Denmark (especially refugees and their families under family reunification rules) and symbolizes a lack of recognition. We have chosen to adopt the theories of recognition (and redistribution) propounded by Axel Honneth and Nancy Fraser to explore our queries about Start Help and the discriminatory impact on its recipients. Empirically the article is based on in-depth qualitative interviews with six refugees who all receive Start Help.

The article begins by providing an introduction to the debate about integration legislation in Denmark. Subsequently we present and discuss our main theoretical concepts, namely the theories of recognition and justice which function as clues for our empirical analysis. From this theoretical perspective we present finally an empirical analysis of Start Help recipients’ experiences.

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