Objective: To gain a qualitative understanding of belonging as reflected in the experience of newly resettled young people from refugee backgrounds. Drawing upon a narrative perspective premised on a postmodern social constructivist model, the study is based on the understanding that belonging is a constructed experience, with multiple possibilities of the nature of belonging.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with 30 students and their parents using a digital storytelling research approach. The interview data was transcribed and explicated using a thematic narrative analyses process, aiming at explicating the participants’ experience of belonging. Parent data was used to supplement students’ accounts.
Results: Five themes emerged and are explicated: connection to a larger entity; experience of immersion; experience of connection (and disconnection); sense of identity; and instrumental outcomes.
Conclusions: A sense of belonging emerged as a multi-faceted and nuanced experience, negotiated in a social space by refugee youth in ways that best enable them to make sense of their experiences. Youth from refugee backgrounds seek coherence in their narratives of belonging, which are characterised as being highly relational. From a narrative co-constructivist perspective, narrations of belonging reflect the roles of both youth and their significant others in a process of collaborative meaning making. The findings may inform future research targeting refugee youth resettlement and adaptation wellbeing.
SOURCE: Shiqi Chen and Robert D. Schweitzer. “The Experience of Belonging in Youth from Refugee Backgrounds: A Narrative Perspective.” Journal of Child and Family Studies, 02 May 2019.
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