Refugees and return : a comparative study of Kosovar Albanians in Italy and the UK
This thesis, through a comparative study of Kosovar Albanian refugees in the UK and Italy, develops an understanding of refugees' attitudes towards return and identifies the factors that influence their decision-making process through the analysis of their interaction with the country of origin and the society of reception. It formulates a theoretical approach to the study of refugee repatriation based on Archer's form of sociological realism and her morphogenetic model, while also drawing on previous studies of refugee flight, settlement and return, which argue for the advantage of studying refugee specific issues as part of the whole chain of events that characterise the experience of exile. As such, it represents a contribution towards the theoretical understanding of refugees in general and refugee repatriation in particular. The case study is grounded on this theoretical approach and analyses refugees' perspectives on return within the proposed frame. It is based upon a qualitative study through fieldwork with refugees in both countries of exile and in this respect marks a distinctive contribution to the study of refugees in the UK and in Italy in general, and to the study of refugees' approach to return in particular. The thesis dismisses the predominant assumption of governments that' all refugees want to return' and concludes that refugees' attitudes towards return depend on a range of factors: their relationship with the country of origin, their interaction with the country of exile and their personal background. More significantly, it demonstrates the linkages between these factors and the time and modality of their flight, their interaction with the reception, integration and repatriation policies of the country of exile and their relationship with the conflict and society in the country of origin. In this respect, it represents a contribution to existing studies of refugee repatriation through the development of a more sophisticated account of what influences the decision-making process of refugees vis-a-vis return.