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Refugees, Acculturation Strategies, Stress and Integration


The advent of super-diversity and politicisation of migration has been accompanied by heightened interest in migrant settlement. Much has been written in policy and academic fields about the importance of integration, particularly in relation to the settlement of refugees. However, little attention has been paid to the varied settlement experiences of individual refugees, or how personal, cultural and experiential factors combine to influence settlement experiences. This paper turns to cross-cultural psychology's discussion of acculturation processes and, in particular, Berry's acculturation strategies (Berry, 1997) to look at the different factors that influence acculturation and how these factors impact upon the ability of individual refugees to integrate. Using qualitative data collected from 138 interviews with refugees living in Birmingham, England, the paper shows how a range of group and individual factors, relating to their experiences both in refugees’ home and host countries, influences the acculturation strategies adopted by different refugees. It shows that in the current policy environment many refugees lack choice about acculturation strategy, are vulnerable to psychosocial stress and struggle to integrate.

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A. Burnett and M. Peel (2001), ‘Asylum seekers and refugees in Britain: heath needs of asylum seekers and refugees’, British Medical Journal, 322: 544–7.

B. Parekh (2008), A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

D. Phillips (2006), ‘Moving towards integration: the housing of asylum seekers and refugees in Britain’, Housing Studies, 21: 4, 539–53.

S. Vertovec (2008), ‘Super-diversity and its implications’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30: 6, 1024–54.

C. Watters (2001), ‘Emerging paradigms in the mental health care of refugees’, Social Science and Medicine, 52: 1709–18.

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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
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