Journal of Social Policy

Articles

Refugees, Acculturation Strategies, Stress and Integration

JENNY PHILLIMOREa1

a1 Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT. email: j.a.phillimore@bham.ac.uk

Abstract

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.

(Online publication December 09 2010)