The paper examines, in a comparative way, the situation of refugees settled in Italy and the Netherlands. It examines how refugees themselves perceive their social condition in the two contrasting `models' of integration in Italy and the Netherlands and how they define integration success and develop strategies to achieve their goals. The narratives of refugees explored in this paper documents that integration, as it is perceived and desired by the refugees themselves, is both about its functional aspects and about social participation in the wider community. These aspects of integration consist of sets of overlapping processes that take place differently in various spheres of the receiving society and have various outcomes. It is argued that policy should recognize this complexity and acknowledge refugees as social actors rather than turning them into policy objects in order to facilitate integration in each of these sub-sectors.
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