The concept of belonging captures both the overwhelming place-belongingness experienced by many young people living in bounded communities such as refugee communities, as well as the ways belonging is mediated through structural embeddedness and everyday interactions. While the majority of scholarship on belonging emphasise the positive, inclusive aspects of belonging, and generally see belonging as something to be achieved, this article offers a more nuanced understanding of how modes of belonging can act as both a hindrance and a protective mechanism in young people’s lives. A qualitative case study of a group of young Somali refugees living in Australia has been chosen to illustrate this dynamic. This article firstly discusses refugee young people’s access to and transitions between contexts and communities that enhance their belonging and broaden their opportunities to participate. Secondly, the article shows how efforts to belong to youth communities can, in fact, entrench other kinds of marginalisation. The article seeks to further develop the concept of belonging, as it proved vital in understanding the ways marginalisation shape and influence young people’s participatory practices and choices.
SOURCE: (2020) “Nearness and distance: the double-sided nature of belonging for young refugees in Australia.” Social Identities,
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