Religious Dimensions of Contexts of Reception: Comparing Two New England Cities

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Abstract

We compare how religion is present in Portland, Maine and Danbury, Connecticut and how it influences the ways organizations provide social services to recently arrived immigrants. We find that a range of municipal, civic, and religious organizations shape contexts of reception in each city. In Portland, municipal organizations provide most of the services for the large refugee population. Religious organizations are more central in Danbury, and providers speak more often about religion in their work with the city's economic migrants. Collaboration among organizations is common, although religion sometimes acts as a barrier to collaboration in Portland. We argue that the religious dimensions of cities as contexts of reception are not homogenous and that variation between them is best explained by local factors including history, demographics and organizational ecology.

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