This Glossary clarifies how the project defines certain terms referenced in its work, as grounded in the ITFLOWS project’s Ethical Framework, which is couched within wider European and international human rights frameworks.

Attitudes to immigration

Attitudes are an expression of a favourable or unfavourable evaluation of a person, place, thing, or event at some level of intensity. They are based on our beliefs and values and our behaviour can reflect our attitudes. They can be (under certain circumstances) changed by experiences.

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: The project notes that there are many different types of attitudes to immigration that can be roughly clustered into several groups. For instance, attitudes to immigration can mean attitudes towards immigration-related policy (such as whether to allow more or fewer immigrants into the country). Attitudes to immigrants can also reflect an evaluation regarding a specific immigrant group from a specific country or with a certain religion or, on the other hand, different prejudices towards immigrants. Finally, attitudes towards immigration can also reflect perceived effects of immigration, such as attitudes regarding the impact of immigration on the GDP per capita of a country, attitudes regarding the effect of immigration on national unemployment or attitudes regarding the effect of immigration on national culture or the quality of life of the locals. Sometimes, a person can hold different attitudes to migration. For instance, an individual can be against allowing more immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers into the country, but at the same time they can support the granting of rights to the immigrants already in the country (such as allowing them to access social benefits).


Whereas “sex” refers to biological and physiological characteristics (and is the classification of a person as having female, male and/or intersex characteristics), “gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for individuals based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: The study of international migration involves varying languages and cultures conveying different meanings, and ITFLOWS recognises the autonomy of individuals in how they identify, as well as the normative Western frameworks that have given these terms meaning. Within the context of this understanding, it is important to note that the EMT utilises data sources that include sex-disaggregated datasets.


Intersectionality can be understood as the dynamics between gender, race, and other categories of difference in individual lives, social practices, institutional arrangements, and cultural ideologies, and the power outcomes of these interactions (Davis, 2008).

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: To pursue an intersectional approach to migration research and analysis means understanding the manner in which the EU migration and asylum systems create dynamics of inclusions and exclusions along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality (taking into consideration colonial legacies as part of this).


An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons that is also used as shorthand for “persons of diverse sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.” Sometimes intersex is not included, and the acronym is LGBT. Sometimes “queer” or “questioning” is included, and the acronym is LGBTQ or LGBTIQ. Sometimes “aromantic” or “asexual” is included, and the acronym is “LGBTQA” or “LGBTIQA.”

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: ITFLOWS is fully aware that migrant women and LGBTQI+ persons often remain marginalised, and thus unrepresented, in both research and policy. Their stigmatisation, or the overall neglect for their social integration, can contribute to the tensions between migrants and host societies that the IFLOWS project seeks to address. The project understands that these individuals remain some of the most vulnerable in EU societies, and will attempt to incorporate their otherwise unvoiced or inaccessible experiences into its research and analyses. Moreover, in light of patchwork gender-sensitive policy measures throughout the EU, the ITFLOWS project offers streamlined analyses or recommendations in relation to both women and LGBTQI+ persons.


A migrant is anyone who moves from their country to another, whatever the reasons. There is no universally accepted definition of a “migrant” in international law. According to the International Convention on the protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (Convention on Migrants) defines the “migrant worker” (not migrant in general) as a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national. In the absence of a definition in international and EU law, the term “migrant” is a generic socio-legal term.

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: In its widest scope and for some authors, the term “migrant” also includes asylum seekers and refugees, although the Project emphasizes that these latter categories are regulated by additional instruments and are given specific guarantees in international and European law.

Risk of Tension

Social tension is quite often seen in connection with conflict. However, although social tension precedes conflict, it does not necessarily turn into a conflict.

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: At the initial stage of social tension, dissatisfaction with the situation in any area of life is formed among certain groups and pessimism starts to spread. However, at this stage there is lack of active manifestations of discontent or protest. Within the ITFLOWS Project, we understand the “risk of tensions” as this initial stage lacking active manifestations. We do not attempt to link risk of tensions with further stages when social tensions and dissatisfaction between various segments of society may begin to have more acute form, manifesting itself in various protests or even inter-ethnic conflicts.



According to Article 1.A(2) of the Refugee Convention, a refugee is a person who: “owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”. The EU Qualification Directive (2011/95/EU), Article 2(d) has reproduced this definition. The EU law definition does not include EU nationals as all EU Member States are considered safe countries.


Under the prevailing interpretations of both international and European law (see UNHCR Handbook paragraph 28; Recital 21 of the Qualification Directive), a person is considered a refugee as soon as they meet the relevant criteria, whether or not they have been formally recognised as a refugee. A person does not become a refugee because of recognition, but rather is recognized because they are a refugee. The term refugees to designate individuals or groups who have only been formally recognised by States or UNHCR as entitled to refugee status following an asylum or other status-determination procedure must be avoided and restricts the scope of a refugee. For statistical reasons, when this limited non-legal meaning is intended, it should be clearly clarified as ‘recognised refugees.”

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: Individuals who have been formally granted refugee status are understood as “recognised refugees.” Any person (asylum applicant, irregular migrant or not) who meets the eligibility criteria, but have not applied or applied and have not yet been granted asylum by a state is understood as a “non-recognised refugee” (to be distinguished from unsuccessful asylum applicants); and both recognized and unrecognized are refugees.


Regular/Irregular Migrant

Regular migrants are those who have legal permission, usually either a visa or a resident permit within the EU. Asylum seekers and irregularly staying third-country nationals do not form part of this category.

  • Use of this notion in the ITFLOWS Project: The ITFLOWS project emphasises that the term ‘illegal migrant’ is never to be used. While the term ‘irregular’ is also contested, within the context of the ITFLOWS project it is used to refer to undocumented migrants.


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