IRFAM in English

Social cohesion and development through the promotion of diversity”

About the IRFAM

Institut de Recherche, Formation et Action sur les Migrations

IRFAM is a resource entity founded in 1996 by field workers and university researchers, for professionals working in the fields of social action, education, etc. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the Institute aims to construct links between research in psychology and work in the field of integration and development, together with the fight against discriminations as well as the diversity management.

The goals of the institute are:

  • To provide information about discriminatory mechanisms as factors of exclusion and violence;

  • To promote intercultural relations as instruments of quality integration;

  • To trigger a positive identity development among the victims of exclusion and violence;

  • To contribute to the setting up of democratic mechanisms aimed at encouraging positive management of the socio-cultural difference and durable development.

The resources of the IRFAM are raising awareness, training and working with social workers and political decision takers, as well as implementing research-development processes on the problems of the socio-economic development, exclusion and the management of socio-cultural conflicts.

The fields of intervention of IRFAM are:

  • The evolution of the immigrant communities and, in particular, the observation of the psycho-social integration processes and the dynamics of cultural identities;

  • The development of intercultural and socio-pedagogical intervention methods and policies: training, working with and assessing the field teams, practical experiments, etc.;

  • The production of political and practical recommendations in these matters.

Working on the international stage, the IRFAM is backed by the European Union and various levels of authorities in Belgium. The Institute has three centres in Belgium (Liege, Namur and Brussels) and representative committees in France, Togo, Benin, Turkey and Greece. Partnerships link the IRFAM to numerous entities in Europe, Africa and Canada.

As a permanent education movement aiming diversity promotion, IRFAM is editing the collection "Compétences interculturelles” of L’Harmattan Editions (Paris). IRFAM broadcasts also a trimestrial newsletter named Diversités et Citoyennetés. The training team of IRFAM develops also specific pedagogical tools to prevent and treat phenomenons of violence.

IRFAM's directors

IRFAM’s Directors are Mr. Spyros Amoranitis and Dr Altay Manço

Mr. Amoranitis is a specialist of multi-dimensional approaches to social work and management. He trains social workers and runs the institute.

Altay Manço has a doctorate in social psychology. He was Associate professor at the University of Liège as well as University of Paris V. He is the scientific director of the institute.




IRFAM’s previous researches and actions for pro-diversity governance

IRFAM’s previous works in the field of migrants and co-development

IRFAM’s previous researches and actions for pro-diversity governance

1. Theories in the “ intercultural competencies” field : procedural methods for socio-educational actors

In its general modus operandi, IRFAM’s research and actions focus on the concept of the intercultural competencies of immigrants and the professionals working with them. These competencies subsequently affect the population as a whole. The existence of competencies of the people and of the professional sociocultural actors is visible in society, as is their existence in the political systems accommodating immigrants and in education. These competencies are useful in two ways during the integration effort: at once for the host society and for the immigrants’ original background. These competencies are realised by developing particular identity-building strategies: social workers and educators also put into practice these types of professional abilities within the framework of the social and educational actions of development that have proven to be the most successful. The answer to the question of how to best promote these competencies in a democratic society inevitably lies in the practice of cultural expression, which is a necessary stepping stone to socio-political participation – i.e. citizenship. “Places of intercultural contact” need to be located; places of contact and words among people living in socially heterogeneous and culturally diverse environments. Expression becomes a link to the social environment and therefore to participation. Intercultural competencies involve all aspects of citizenship, which weave social fabrics and build bridges between diversity and unity.

Research examples:

  1. 2006-2009: Réalisation et diffusion d’un recueil d’outils pour le mainstreaming de la diversité socioculturelle – Avec la collaboration de la Communauté française de Belgique et de la Région wallonne [Realisation and dissemination of resources for ‘mainstreaming’ sociocultural diversity – With the collaboration of the French Community of Belgium in Wallonia]

  2. 2006-2008: Production d’une Méthode d’Evaluation Rapide des Actions Locales (MERAL) pour promouvoir l’évaluation de l’intégration des personnes et des groupes issus des migrations. Autofinancement en collaboration avec le CERES de l’Université de Liège [Production of a Local Actions Rapid Evaluation Method (MERAL) to assess the integration of migrant people and groups – Self-financed in collaboration with the CERES, University of Liege]

  3. 2002-2003: Compétences linguistiques et sociocognitives des enfants de migrants. Turcs et Marocains en Belgique – Recherche autofinancée [Linguistic and sociocognitive skills for immigrant children: Moroccans and Turkish in Belgium –Self-financed research]

  4. 2000-2002: Compétences interculturelles des jeunes issus de l’immigration. Perspectives théoriques et pratiques – Recherche soutenue par le Fonds National de Recherche Scientifique [Intercultural skills for young immigrants: Practical and theoretical perspectives – Research supported by the National Scientific Research Funds]

2. Research aiming at “local social development and developing services

As one of the fields the institute has been particularly devoted to since its creation, social development is about spreading the abilities of expression and initiative, and the organisation of its residents, which entails modifying one’s personal representations. This includes modifying their mutual relationships and their attitudes towards their environment, taking action to improve their living conditions and, finally, promoting local services and associations for “integrated” and sustainable development. The concept of integration refers to the inextricable links between the different types of exclusion experienced by marginalised groups in society, and particularly by groups of immigrants. Since multiple types of exclusion mutually reinforce each other within complex systems, they should be dealt with on multiple levels. IRFAM’s work is based on the idea that socio-psychological and cultural actions regarding personal revitalisation are necessary and complimentary to all collective initiatives of social integration. In this context, support from social actors is an important chapter in this section of research and institutional action. In fact, this support is the result of a policy of cultural recognition and development in a diverse society.

Examples of practices:

  1. 2005-2008: Formation des intervenants des structures d’accueil de réfugiés dans une perspective de bien-être. Validation des méthodes et contenus. A la demande et avec la participation de la Croix-Rouge de Belgique, de Fedasil, de l’Union des Villes et des Communes de Belgique et du Fonds Houtman [Training actors within the structures of accommodating refugees for their welfare. Validating methods and content – Commissioned by and with the participation of the Red Cross in Belgium, Fedasil, the Union of Cities and Communes in Belgium and the Houtman Fund]

  2. 2004-2008: Français langue étrangère et seconde : comment font les maîtres avec les primo-arrivants non-francophones ? Avec la collaboration des étudiants de l’Université de Liège et de l’Université Georgetown (EU) [French language: foreign and second. Teacher actions for newly arrived non-Francophones – With the collaboration of students from the University of Liege and Georgetown University (USA)]

    Teaching students who don't speak your language - Enseigner à des apprenants qui ne maîtrisent pas la langue d'enseignement - Egitim dilini bilmeyenlere egitim vermek

    Experience at Bishop¹s University, Lennoxville, Canada. November 2012

  3. 2003-2004: Evaluation des besoins en formation à l’interculturel des intervenants sociaux en Région wallonne – Soutien de la Région wallonne [Evaluating the need for intercultural training for social actors in Wallonia – With the support of Wallonia]

    Read the new paper of IRFAM on this topic :

    A. Manço et P. Alen, "Newcomers in Educational System: The Case of French-Speaking Part of Belgium", Sociology Mind, v. 2, n° 1, Irvine, CA, p. 116-126, 2012.
  4. 2003-2004: Les Conseils représentatifs des Centres régionaux wallons d’intégration : étude sur la participation du public à la demande de la Fédération des CRI [Representative councils of Wallonia’s regional centres for integration: A study on public participation, commissioned by the CRI]

  5. 2002-2006: Optimalisation de l’interaction entre familles récemment immigrées et services : une recherche-action au service du bien-être des enfants – en partenariat avec l’Université de Liège avec le soutien du Fond Houtman/ONE [Optimising interaction between newly arrived immigrant families and services: Research-action for child welfare – partnership with the University of Liege; with the support of the Houtman Fund /ONE]

    More details

  6. 2002-2005: La présence et l’intégration des populations immigrées dans des zones semi- urbaines en Wallonie : exemple de la Basse-Meuse – Soutien de la Région wallonne et de la ville de Visé [The presence and the integration of immigrant populations in Wallonia’s semi-urban zones: The example of Basse-Meuse – With the support of Wallonia and the city of Visé]

  7. 2002-2005: Ouverture du scoutisme aux populations diversifiées. Recherche-action à la demande des Fédérations de scouts de Belgique [Opening-up of scouting in diverse populations – Research-action commissioned by the Scout Federation of Belgium]

  8. 2001-2007: Cultes et cohésion sociale. Gestion de la diversité musulmane dans les municipalités d’Europe. Soutien de la Commission européenne, Direction générale des Affaires sociales – Réalisation d’un mémorandum sur le dialogue avec les citoyens musulmans [Religion and social cohesion: Managing Muslim diversity in Europe’s municipalities – With the support of the EC, DG-ESAEO. Realisation of a memorandum on dialogues with Muslim citizens]

    Read more details
    To the book of the project

  9. 2001-2002: Apports des élus d’origine étrangère à la démocratie locale en Belgique francophone – Recherche autofinancée [Contributions of elected officials of foreign origin in the local democracy of Francophone Belgium – Self-financed research]

  10. 2000-2001: Régionalisation de l’immigration au Québec – Projet de recherche commandé par le gouvernement du Canada [Regionalisation of immigration in Quebec – Research project commissioned by the government of Canada]

  11. 1997-1999: De la délégation par abandon à la participation citoyenne : Jeunes issus de l’immigration dans les quartiers socialement défavorisés – Projet soutenu par la Commission européenne – Direction générale des Affaires sociales [From relegation through neglect to citizen participation: Young immigrants in socially disadvantaged districts – Project supported by the EC, DG-ESAEO]

  12. 2015 : From diversity to hyperdiversity in an urban context: position of people in poverty. Three Belgian cases. Jan Vranken (Universiteit Antwerpen) & Altay Manço (IRFAM, Liege). An IRFAM working paper.


3. “Preventing Social Violence and Exclusion through Cultural Negotiation”

For any person having lived outside his country of origin, a delicate balance is struck between respecting an original cultural identity and identity negotiation. This negotiation process allows one to live within and recognise his social surroundings in the country of refuge, and young immigrants are particularly affected by this issue. There are many different indicators showing that the issue of the sociocultural liberation of young immigrants is a point of contention in society between, first, individualistic and modern European societies, and, second, immigrant communities from outside Europe with a more collectivist and traditional cultural identity. If research and the actions resulting from it are used in the pronounced issue of non-stigmatisation of immigrant families – which creates tension within families and complicates ongoing educational work – then the idea is to find strategies for managing cultural discord and identity negotiation. These strategies are proposed as a positive response within immigrant populations so as to allow cultural expression to blossom. In addition, sociocultural actors and teachers often express dismay based on the fact that they have worked in a field filled with cultural tensions between immigrant families and the institutional culture of the state bodies and structures tasked with accommodating and managing these immigrants. Through multiple aspects this reality seems to escape these state institutions and evoke “ghosts” which spoil these representations or disturb the quality of socio-educational work. It is necessary, therefore, to work towards finding efficient strategies of integration and identity-building for immigrant families and native populations. The capacity to negotiate in a context of cultural discord guarantees cultural development and social participation. Objectives to pursue in this context include: creating, evaluating and disseminating practical resources for awareness, information and training based on research results and aimed at young immigrants, their parents and the sociocultural actors working with them.

Examples of practices:

  1. 2007-2010: Les relations intercommunautaires turco-arméniennes : étude de faisabilité d’actions de réconciliation en Belgique, au Luxembourg, au Québec, en France. Autofinancement. Collaboration avec 4Motion (Luxembourg) et plusieurs autres associations, ainsi que des communes [Turkish-Armenian intercommunity relations: Feasibility study on reconciliation actions in Belgium, Luxembourg, Quebec and France – Self-financed; with the collaboration of 4Motion (Luxembourg) and several other associations and communes]

  2. 2004-2009: Comprendre et interagir avec les nouvelles migrations internationales : la notion de prise de risque et de violences au sein d’une population de migrants clandestins et pratiques de prévention. En collaboration avec le Service de Psychologie du développement social de l’Université de Liège, l’Université de Gand et l’Université Mohammed V (Maroc) – Avec le concours de la Loterie Nationale [Understanding and responding to the new international migrations: The notion of risk-taking and violence in clandestine migrant populations and prevention practices – In collaboration with the Department of Social Development Psychology of the University of Liege, Gand University and Mohammed V University (Morocco) & the support of the National Lottery]

    Sexual violence and sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco: a community-based participatory assessment using respondent driven sampling

  3. 2006-2008: Education citoyenne à la diversité. Bonnes pratiques, représentations et recommandations pour les enseignants. Dans le cadre des mesures d'accompagnement du programme SOCRATES de l’UE en collaboration avec le CEJI. En lien avec l’Université de Liège [Citizen’s education on diversity: Good practices, examples and recommendations for teachers – In the context of the EU’s SOCRATES programme guidelines and in collaboration with the CEJI and the University of Liege]

    More details

  4. 2002-2004: Harmoniques. Mise au point d’une méthode d’intervention pour sensibiliser aux effets de la discrimination – Soutien de la Région wallonne [Acts of harmony: Developing a method of intervention to raise awareness of the effects of discrimination – With the support of Wallonia]

  5. 2002-2003: Jeunesses, citoyennetés, violences. Réfugiés albanais en Belgique et au Québec – Soutenue par la Région wallonne et la Province du Québec [Youth, citizenship and violence: Albanian refugees in Belgium and Quebec – With the support of Wallonia and Quebec]

  6. 2000-2004: Les violences et les discriminations exercées sur les jeunes filles dans les familles d’origine étrangère et de culture musulmane : le développement des capacités de négociation interculturelle et de la prévention (Allemagne, Belgique et France) – Recherche dans le cadre du programme Daphné de la Commission européenne et soutenue par la Communauté française de Belgique [Violence and discrimination against young foreign and Muslim girls: The development of intercultural negotiation abilities and prevention (Germany, Belgium and France) – Research within the framework of the European Commission’s DAPHNE programme and supported by Belgium’s Francophone community]

    More information

IRFAM’s previous works in the filed of migrants and co-development

In a society filled with diverse cultural expressions, promoting identity-building amongst migrants and young immigrants in terms of cultural diversity is a strategic action. Indeed, since there are a number of specific difficulties regarding immigrant populations’ social integration, the hypothesis according to which cultural diversity can create a rich, diverse society is an idea whose promotion should be emphasised. Thus, in the face of integration and discrimination problems, groups of immigrants can develop a specific cultural position: an attitude at once positive and pro- active which aims to mobilise and promote sources of originality, importance and distinction in a system of activities, identity-building characteristics (personal or collective, tied to both the country of refuge and the native land), relative advantages, skills, opportunities and specific networks. With a concrete approach, these strategies allow a dynamic cultural attitude to function, which goes beyond the classic laborious integration scheme in an exogenous, preconceived framework. From their own identity-building resources, cultural actors of foreign origin develop different strategies of surmounting obstacles, adhering to a developmental expression and creating a favourable, culturally diverse context within society. The development of sociocultural originality stems from actions of dynamic identity-building. Practical orientations that present themselves in terms of integration are extremely varied. They affect sectors of activity related to the issue of managing diversities in immigration, as well as socio-economic activities that constitute veritable bridges between country of origin and country of refuge, ranging from transnational commercial activities to involvement in development projects in the country of origin, such as co-development projects. An important aspect for action that falls within the framework of a multi-actor partnership is the development of information and diverse solidarity networks, such as community outreach. In fact, community outreach constitutes one of the pillars of democratic participation. We currently assist with diverse forms of the development and renewal of associative community networks. These institutions play an evolving role, and they take on new responsibilities – even if the means are not always readily available. In addition, research points to a striking deficit in participation for immigration communities, whatever the type of envisioned participation might be (e.g. economic integration, political participation, cultural expression, etc.). It is therefore urgent to invest in supporting immigrant-created community outreach so as to make their presence and expression a priority in their country of refuge. Community outreach should be considered as a pathway to citizen participation. It will also allow for the successful balancing between two complex trends: first, an expression of ethnicity that produces a sense of identity, and, second, citizenship that balances out the trend of expression and generates real participation in society as a whole.

More details

Examples of practices and research:

  1. 2007-2010: Migrants âgés, marché de l’emploi et co-développement : étude exploratoire en Europe et au Canada, en collaboration avec l’Université de Sherbrooke et autres partenaires universitaires. Soutien des gouvernements wallons et québécois [Older migrants: Labour market and co-development – Exploratory study carried out in Europe and Canada in collaboration with Sherbrooke University and other university associates. With the support of the governments of Wallonia and Quebec]

  2. 2005-2008: Etude de faisabilité de la création d’une fédération d’associations de migrants. Formation et soutien des acteurs. Autofinancement, en collaboration avec des associations françaises ADER et GRDR [Feasibility study for the creation of a migrant association federation – Training and support provided by actors. Self-financed in collaboration with the French associations ADER and GRDR]

  3. 2005-2008: Valorisation Identitaire, Transferts, Autonomie, Réalisations (VITAR II) – Projet d’insertion socioprofessionnelle du public africain qualifié à Bruxelles à travers les actions de co-développement, projet soutenu par le Fonds Social Européen, la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale et la Région wallonne [Identity-building Development, Transfer, Autonomy and Achievement (VITAR II) – Socio-professional integration project for African people living in Brussels through the co-development project, supported by the European Social Fund, Brussels and Wallonia]

  4. 2002-2008: Tourisme, développement et insertion : valorisation culturelle des travailleurs migrants ou issus de l’immigration. En collaboration avec le Service de Psychologie sociale de l’Université de Liège et l’association GODODO [Tourism, development and integration: Cultural development of immigrant workers In collaboration with the Department of Social Psychology of the University of Liege and GODODO association

  5. 2001-2004: La vie associative des migrants : quelles (re)connaissances ? avec le soutien de la Région wallonne [Migrant community outreach: Knowledge and acceptance With the support of Wallonia]

  6. 2001-2004: Valorisation Identitaire, Transferts, Autonomie, Réalisations (VITAR) – Projet d’insertion socioprofessionnelle du public africain en Wallonie soutenu par le Fonds Social Européen et la Région wallonne

  7. 1999-2000: Sociographie de la population turque et d’origine turque : 40 ans de présence en Belgique (1960-2000). Dynamiques, problèmes, perspectives – à la demande du Centre des Relations Européennes, Bruxelles [Sociography of the Turkish-origin population: 40 years in Belgium (1960-2000) – Dynamics, problems and perspectives – Commissioned by the Centre for European Relations, Brussels]

    Young Turks- Evaluate Insertion in Belgium through 1990/2011-observations and Compare with Germany and Turkey

  8. 1999-2000: Valorisation Identitaire, Transferts et Autonomie (VITA) - Valorisation identitaire et transferts de compétences : l’intégration des migrants au service du co- développement nord-sud - Sociographie de la population africaine – Recherche à la demande du Ministère des Affaires sociales de la Région wallonne [Identity-building Development, Transfer and Autonomy (VITA) – Identity-building development and transfer of skills: Migrant integration into the North-South co-development services - Sociography of the African population – Research commissioned by the Wallonian Minister for Social Affairs]

  9. 1998-2003: Valorisation identitaire et professionnelle (VIP) des travailleurs issus de l’immigration. Recherche-Action-Formation soutenue par la Région wallonne, le Forem, le CPAS de Visé [Professional and Identity-building Development (VIP) for immigrant workers Research-action-training programme supported by Wallonia, Forem, and the CPAS of Visé]

  10. 2007-2014: Practices and dialogues on Migration and development: strengthening EUNOMAD. Identification and Analysis of Co-Development Practices in Europe: Methodology and Overall Results.

  11. 2010 : Migration and development in Europe. Policies, practices and actors Spyros Amoranitis et Altay A. Manço (eds), EUNOMAD, Bruxelles, 2010

    This book provides a comprehensive analysis of ideas and practices of European actors involved in the activities connected to migration and development. The description of links between the migration and the development has been elaborated through the assessment of existing practices and criteria designated to evaluate the aforementioned activities. The book gives an insight into the migration and development activities experienced by a dozen countries forming together the international network “EUNOMAD”. In order to identify and describe activities of migrants assigned to develop local areas of their countries of origin, Eunomad members (between 2008 and 2010) not only carried out numerous interviews with target groups, but also organized a couple of seminars on the national as well as the international level. Invited representatives of the national research platforms then summarized their experiences in the form of articles. The conducted analyses can contribute to bring up-to-date factors aiming to support existing positive practices, and to form appropriate structures that would answer the local needs with respect to available resources. The applied methodological approach provides the reader with a comprehensive picture of the activities of migrant associations and other institutions situated in various European countries: information tools and trainings, and practical recommendations for elaboration of policy strategies.

  12. 2010: NATURALISATION AND INTEGRATION OF IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR CHILDREN: POLICY INTERACTIONS IN BELGIUM by Mélanie Knott and Altay Manço. Seminar jointly organised by the European Commission and the OECD under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union 14-15 October 2010, Brussels.

  13. 2013: The Eunomad network has published several concept notes. They were written by Altay Manço and his partners who based their reflection on member practices. Please check them on the network’s page