Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)


Ability not to understand

The “ability to not understand” is an expression coined by Zali D. Gurevitch. The ability to not understand is opposed to the ability to understand or the inability to understand; in Gurevitch’s words: “real dialogue requires that the parties first acknowledge this otherness as the distance between them. Thus, the ability to not understand, rather than the ability to understand the other, is posited as crucial to the dialogic process.” (Gurevitch 1989, 161)

⇢ see also Cross Talk, fair dialogue, Level Telling Field

References and further reading:

Gurevitch, Zali D. 1989. “The Power of Not Understanding: The Meeting of Conflicting Identities.” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 25.2: 161–173.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7

[BBK / CS / FK]


According to Amartya Sen (1999, 19), an agent is “someone who acts and brings about change, and whose achievements can be judged in terms of their own values and objectives, whether or not we asses them in terms of some external criteria as well.”

Following Sen’s definition, Cross Talk aim at promoting agency, bringing migrants, NGOs, citizens, and other stakeholders together to speak, perform, listen and act on an equal footing.

In re-enactments, migrants and refugees are recognized as agents by the public; thus they can enter a "fair dialogue" to bring about change.

⇢ see also: Cross Talk, fair dialogue, re-enactment, recognition

References and further reading:

Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Category: B

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 [MD]


According to Encyclopædia Britannica, “[i]n national and international law,” the term alien refers to “a foreign-born resident who is not a citizen by virtue of parentage or naturalization and who is still a citizen or subject of another country.”

⇢ see also:  citizenship, naturalization

References and further reading: 

The Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2021. “Alien.” Encyclopedia Britannica. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: D

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7,8



According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term assimilation literally means “the act of making or becoming like,” “similarity,” or “conversion into a similar substance.” In sociology and migration literature, assimilation is related to the concept of integration, which refers to “the process whereby any minority group, especially a racial one, adapts itself to a majority society and is accorded by the latter equality of rights and treatment […]” (Bullock et al. 1986, 428). When the process of integration “reaches the point of obliterating the minority’s separate cultural identity,” the term assimilation of the minority into the majority is used (Bullock et al. 1986, 428).

⇢ see also: inclusion, integration, migration, equality

References and further reading:

Bullock, Alan, Oliver Stallybrass, Stephen Trombley, and Bruce Eadie, eds. 1986. The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought. London: Fontana.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7


Asylum; Asylum seeker

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the right to seek and to enjoy asylum from persecution. Persecution implies the infliction of serious harm on an individual and the failure of the state of his or her nationality to provide protection. Article 14(1) UDHR states that everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol define refugee as any person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it” (Article 1.A(2)). Upon determination that a person falls within the ambit of the Refugee Convention, as amended by the Refugee Protocol, an asylum seeker gains the status of a refugee in the country in which he sought protection and thus protection from repatriation (the non-refoulement commitment).

⇢ see also: forced migration and displacement, migrant, migration and identity, mobility, refugee

References and further reading:

United Nations General Assembly. 1948. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations. URL: human-rights. Date of access: August 24, 2021.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2010. “Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.” UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: D

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Attitudes, beliefs, and values

In the survey research conducted in the OPPORTUNITIES project, we measure attitudes on migration. Following a definition found on the website of the University of Reading, we define attitudes as a way of thinking or feeling with regards to someone or something. For example, people might have different attitudes about how welcome migrants are in a society. This may be influenced by a belief. A belief is, according to the same source, “an idea that is accepted as true without any facts.” Such beliefs may be the belief in equal chances for everyone, regardless of their origin. Another competing belief may be that societies are better off if they are ethnically homogeneous, even if this means that there are fewer candidates for certain jobs. These attitudes and beliefs are influenced by values. Values are more fundamental than beliefs and refer, according to the same website, to a people’s own set of principles which they consider of great importance. The (sometimes conflicting) ideologies of social democracy and nationalism might be considered as two examples of deeper value systems with different outcomes at the level of attitudes and beliefs.

⇢ see also quantitative media studies, survey analysis

References and further reading:

University of Reading. 2021. “Values, Beliefs and Attitudes.” University of Reading. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5

[DC / LH / SM]

Brain circulation

For a definition of the term, see the respective entry in the European Migration Network (EMN) Glossary.

brain drain

References and further reading:

European Commission. 2020. European Migration Network (EMN) Glossary. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7


Brain drain

In the context of migration, the term brain drain must be distinguished from that of brain gain: “Brain drain is the loss suffered by a region [or country] as a result of the emigration of a (highly) qualified [or skilled] person, while brain gain is when a country benefits as a consequence of immigration of a highly qualified person.” (Srivastava 2020, n.p.) Brain drain is a loss to the country of origin. In the short to medium term (e.g. 1–5 years) brain drain reduces the human capital of a region or country, as it takes time and resources to train people unless emigrating people are replaced by immigrants with similar skills. In the long term (e.g. 5–10 years) brain drain could be managed by training and education of those who have not migrated, and again by immigration.

⇢ see also: brain circulation

References and further reading: Srivastava, Shubhaangi. 2020. “Brain Drain vs. Brain Gain.” Assembly of European Regions. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7



A camp is usually referred to as an enclosed outdoor space for transitory, spontaneous settlement. In dictionaries, the notion of camp is, first of all, associated with the military lexicon: it refers to the site of battle or the place where an army settles before battle. However, camp qualifies as an indoor space when it indicates a site of detention, a prison where people are kept unwillingly. Since World War II, camp is also associated with the idea of concentration camp and labour camp as mass murder sites.

A refugee camp designates the organized facilities where refugees and asylum seekers reside and are provided with basic needs – food, shelter and medical assistance – while waiting to be granted asylum or a visa. The refugee camp is the first safe space where refugees who cross a border – whether via sea or land – are welcomed and assisted. Refugee camps should be places of temporary and transitory passage but they often become a limbo for displaced migrants; see also The UN RefugeeAgency definition of the term. The OPPORTUNITIES project aims at acknowledging the complex and multifaceted notions of camp by highlighting its temporary nature but also its importance as a space where narratives of and on migration begin to develop and be shared.

⇢ see also: asylum seeker, migrant, refugee

References and further reading:

  • Braidotti, Rosi, and Hlavajova Maria, eds. 2018. Posthuman Glossary. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Nail, Thomas. 2015. The Figure of the Migrant. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2021. “Refugee Camps.” UNHCR: The UN RefugeeAgency. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: B, C

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7



OPPORTUNITIES stresses the capabilities of persons, their freedom to do and to be, and thus the kind of life they seek and are effectively able to lead. How do refugees and migrants see their well-being in their (new) country? How do they perceive living together and building a common life? What reasons do they adduce for this? How do they argue their life in their new/old situation? In Cross Talk, participants discuss their desired kind of life, discern their capabilities, the resources they need, the degrees of freedom they can choose, the need to work together. This communication is indispensable: it opens the opportunity to create a common world.

⇢ see also: opportunity

References and further reading:

Sen, Amartya.1987. On Ethics and Economics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Category: A, B

Work Package: 3, 6, 7