27 / 2008
Milan Mesić, Dragan Bagić

Return Durability as a Physical and Synthetical Indicator of Sustainability. Example of the Serb Returnees in Croatia

Traditional understanding of refugee return as one-time and a definite act has recently been vigorously criticized by the theoreticians and researchers in refugee studies. It seems that in a short period of time opinion prevailed that return is always a complex long-term and diversified process, which in each of its phases can become reversible. Filed researches already ‘revealed’ that many returnees do not stay actually in their places and homeland of origin but re-emigrate. This finding has lead to conclusion that simple crossing of boarder in opposite direction is not the real indicator of return. Instead, it should be successful i.e. sustainable. The most common ‘measure’ of sustainability is absence of repeated migration. The authors have conceptualized and operacionalized seven aspects of return sustainability: I. the extent of return durability; II. feeling of safety; III. socio-demographic characteristics of returnees; IV. socio-economic conditions; V. refugee experience and orientation towards return; VI. citizenship and minority rights; VII. subjective perception of living conditions. Here are only findings relating to the first dimension presented and discussed, accompanied by the returnee typology proposed by the authors, in order to better understand complexity of return movements. They differentiate the following types of returnees: A) unconditional permanent; B) conditional permanent; C) semi-returnees or transnational; D) non-formal; E) formal or quasi-returnees.
KEY WORDS: refugees, returnees, Croatia, Serbs, sustainability of return, types of returnees