20 / 2004
Kristina Toplak


In the contribution, I unpretentiously deal with some problems of Slovenes returning from the countries of Western Europe and Australia in the last fifteen years. In my work, I proceeded from empirical materials and the division of work within the project The Perception of Slovene Integration Policy.

A review of selected Slovene and foreign literature revealed that researchers of return migrations have comprised variegated aspects of returning but mostly avoided problematizing the lives of individuals after their return to the native society. Until a few years ago, there was little trace of such issues in Slovene political and public discourse. The first and only relevant research of return migrations of Slovenes was a part of a several-years sociological research project on Slovenes in the Federal Republic of Germany, which was carried out in the second half of the seventies of the previous century. However, the returning into the source environment is, similarly to emigrating, a process that is connected with difficulties an individual must overcome to be able to start a normal life: from acquiring different documents and permits, solving residential problems, looking for work to the inclusion into a narrower social environment.

When discussing the life of return migrants we must distinguish and pay regard to different motives for returning (there is never only one), which in tight connection with “survival strategies” of individuals, complexly influence the individual’s perception of (re)integration into source environment. Motives alleged by return migrants are connected with their expectations when returning to source environment. Confrontation with other (realistic) situation in source environment can influence negatively on the individual, cause dissatisfaction and can lead to remigration. In a brief leap to the problematic of motives and causes for returning, we have stopped at the most and the least mentioned motives for returning: patriotism and economic motive.

Difficulties that in the research involved “returnees” alleged are variegated, complex and indirectly point to inefficiency of Slovene remigration policy. The principal difficulties are lengthy and unregulated procedures in acquiring various permits (personal and real property) documents, in asserting welfare rights, in import and payment of customs, and with nostrification of certificates. People are disappointed over the negative attitude of employees in offices where they seek help and information. Necessary to mention are difficulties due to the non-flexible educational system, and difficulties that are a consequence of insufficient informing before the returning as consular missions and emigrant organisation do not have all needed information at their disposal. That is why “returnees” at times experience sensations of non-belonging; they identify themselves with the society they previously worked in and criticize some aspects of Slovene society – for example bureaucracy and too slow judicature.