Policy, agency, and intercultural dialogue: Experiences of refugees from war-torn Yugoslavia in Italy - This article examines the process of policy and bureaucratic labelling of refugees and its intersection with race, ethnicity, class and/or gender, as well as with other exclusionary mechanisms operating in the places of their settlement. It critically examines the prospects and process of settlement of people who fled war-torn Yugoslavia and were granted the right to work and/or study in Italy based on a special Government decree, without any lengthy determination procedure. The analysis is based on the ethnographic research conducted in Rome, in 1999 and 2000. It explores mechanisms and processes that enabled them to benefit from the rights they were granted upon arrival. The discussion points to the connections between assistance strategies or policies, structural constraints they embody and the type of agency they encourage. It explores the role of co-ethnic, cross-ethnic, and minority-majority social networks in settlement. This article argues that if acquisition of formal legal and social rights to inclusion and equality are not accompanied by informal bridging, micro-level minority-majority contacts and ties, the experience of minority groups will remain strongly shaped by their feelings of "otherness", perceptions of inequality and exclusion. This is because the development of trust between minority (ethnic) and majority groups only partially depends on a set of rights that can be granted to the ‘ethnic’ or ‘minority’ groups.
Keywords: Refugees, agency, social inclusion, ethnicity, social networks.