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Doing research with refugees

Doing research with refugees: Issues and guidelines

Bogusia Temple
Rhetta Moran
Copyright Date: 2006
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  • Book Info
    Doing research with refugees
    Book Description:

    This book is the first specifically to explore methodological issues relating to the involvement of refugees in both service evaluation and development and research more generally. It builds on a two-year seminar series funded by the ESRC and attended by members of a range of statutory and voluntary organisations, as well as academics and refugees themselves. The participants jointly drew up a set of good practice guidelines that are re-produced in the book for the first time. Key features include a focus on the methodology for active involvement of refugees; a discussion of barriers to involvement; suggestions for overcoming barriers; analysis of existing practices and ideas for change and a discussion of the implications for policy, research and practice. Doing research with refugees is essential reading for anyone working with in the field. This includes academics, researchers, health and social care providers and voluntary organisations. Refugees themselves who are interested in their role in service evaluation, development and research will also find the book of interest.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-150-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of figures and photographs
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Nicholas Sagovsky

    In what ways does research benefit from the involvement of refugees? Can research also be empowerment? These key questions are raised by this provocative collection of essays. Here is a book about refugee people, including those seeking asylum, as agents. Their participation in the research processes which inform the policies that shape their lives is seen as vital to the success both of the research and the ensuing social action.

    The chapters in this book are the product of an initiative by RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research), which resulted in an ESRC Seminar Series. They are shot...

  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  7. Notes on contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  8. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Bogusia Temple and Rhetta Moran

    Our collection of chapters is drawn from a two-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) seminar series, during which a range of statutory and voluntary organisations and refugees met to focus on methodological issues relating to research that sets out to elicit views of refugee people on service development and research. This book is not intended as a literature review of current research with refugees. Readers looking for this may be interested in the review by Castles et al (2002) and the website of the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees ( The value of involving refugees in research was...

  9. TWO Refugees as researchers: experiences from the project ‘Bridges and fences: paths to refugee integration in the EU’
    (pp. 21-36)
    Elizabeth Mestheneos

    In 1997, the European Parliament decided to support actions to aid refugee integration in Europe. Between 1997 and 1999, the European Commission provided 63.5 million euros for 180 pilot actions within member states across the European Union (EU), as well as several EU-level projects. Pilot actions were aimed either at improving reception conditions for asylum seekers in individual member states, facilitating voluntary return, or supporting the integration of refugees given permission to settle.

    With the aim of finding and disseminating good practice in the various member states with respect to refugee integration, one of the EU-level projects undertaken by the...

  10. THREE Limited exchanges: approaches to involving people who do not speak English in research and service development
    (pp. 37-54)
    Bogusia Temple and Rosalind Edwards

    It has been estimated that there are nearly two million adults in Britain whose first language is not English, about a third of whom speak little or no English. Particular areas of the country have greater concentrations and ranges of minority ethnic groups and languages than others (Baker et al, 1991; OPCS, 1993; Edwards, 1995; Dorsett, 1998). The world of people who speak little or no English, in Britain, is significantly constrained, and there are links between English language disadvantage and social exclusion and deprivation. Those who most need to register with, and draw on, the services of health and...

  11. FOUR Breaking the silence: participatory research processes about health with Somali refugee people seeking asylum
    (pp. 55-74)
    Rhetta Moran, Zeinab Mohamed and Hermione Lovel

    This chapter draws on the authors’ experiences during the period 1998-2001 (Moran et al, 2002) when they developed a participatory research project (Nichter, 1984;Maguire, 1987;Whyte, 1991;Burkey, 1993;Chambers et al, 1996;Nieuwenhuys, 1997;Smith et al, 1997) in Manchester, England with people from Somalia recently arrived as refugees fleeing war. It begins by setting out a brief historical background to the situation in Somalia, then describes how members of Manchester’s Somali community and academic researchers together developed their methods for finding out about – and improving – health (De Koning and Martin, 1996) among Somalis in Manchester.

    After drawing some connections between a theory about...

  12. FIVE Home/lessness as an indicator of integration: interviewing refugees about the meaning of home and accommodation¹
    (pp. 75-96)
    Priya Kissoon

    Although many Western nations are sites of asylum for refugees, their fulfilment of this humanitarian obligation has become increasingly begrudging and a matter of intense political debate. Different national and political attitudes, and different immigration and resettlement policies affect refugees’ social and material trajectories (van der Veer, 1992; Renaud and Gingras, 1998), and can be prime determinants of their reconstructions of ‘home’ and belonging in the country of asylum (Black, 1994, 2002; Bloch, 2002; Korac, 2003). Research indicates that early stable housing trajectories beget security and autonomy and facilitate functional and social integration (Zetter and Pearl, 1999; Carey-Wood et al,...

  13. SIX The community leader, the politician and the policeman: a personal perspective
    (pp. 97-110)
    Manawar Jan-Khan

    This chapter considers some of the issues that arise in service development and research that limits itself exclusively to community representatives, often self-appointed but sometimes elected, as sources of information. It explores the dynamic between community representatives, and the potential for interdependence with other key actors within the community setting in representing race-related issues, from specific and, arguably exclusive, perspectives that preclude the opportunities for other members of communities to articulate their views about what is happening in the development of social policy concerned with minority ethnic populations. The author argues that service development and research projects must counterbalance the...

  14. SEVEN Complexity and community empowerment in regeneration, 2002-04
    (pp. 111-132)
    Felicity Greenham and Rhetta Moran

    This chapter draws on the recent experience of one of the authors who developed community-level engagement in an urban health regeneration programme. By engaging with people and exploring and documenting their experiences, she was able to help those who were seeking to acquire self-control and empowerment and, in the process, move away from feeling passive and unable to shape any aspects of their own lives.

    The participatory action research (Reason, 1988; Stephen and McTaggart, 1988; Stringer, 1996) involved in this work and discussed in this chapter is best described through reference to Wadsworth’s (1998) formulation that participatory action research is...

  15. EIGHT Refugee voices as evidence in policy and practice
    (pp. 133-154)
    Kirsteen Tait

    Until recently, asylum seeking in the UK involved only a few highprofile individuals and there was no need for a national asylum policy, statutory forms of support for asylum seekers, or for a formal refugee integration policy. Refugees¹ had been persecuted dissidents from behind the Iron Curtain or individually tortured human rights activists: recognised fugitives from world-stage catastrophes. No complex legal process was required to decide whether claims for asylum were genuine. It was not until the 1993 Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act that asylum was dealt with in primary legislation. Before that, the UN Convention was incorporated into Immigration...

  16. NINE Challenging barriers to participation in qualitative research: involving disabled refugees
    (pp. 155-166)
    Jennifer Harris and Keri Roberts

    Qualitative research involving interviews and focus groups has become a popular means of collecting data in the social sciences (Mason, 1996). Yet literature that discusses the practical aspects of arranging and conducting qualitative research is still relatively rare. With the exception of articles in specialist methodology journals (such as theInternational Journal of Qualitative Methodsand theInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice), few authors write in detail about how they did their research. Rarer yet is any acknowledgement of the difficulties or barriers that need to be overcome to enable both potential interviewer and potential respondent...

  17. TEN Why religion matters
    (pp. 167-182)
    M. Louise Pirouet

    Religion matters when researching refugees and those fleeing persecution or intolerable situations for two main reasons: first, because it is very important to so many of these people themselves, and second, because support groups for asylum seekers and refugees often have a large input from faith communities. Yet Gozdziak and Shandy (2002) found that this was a neglected area of research:

    Despite the fact that religious persecution figures prominently in the UN definition of a refugee and faithbased organisations provide emergency relief to refugees, facilitate the settlement of refugees and provide them with a wide range of social services, public...

  18. ELEVEN Action learning: a research approach that helped me to rediscover my integrity
    (pp. 183-202)
    Anna Maria Miwanda Bagenda

    By 2001, policies regarding refugee people seeking asylum were changing at great speed, with ‘forced dispersal’ being one such policy, introduced in 1999. Without the introduction of this policy, it is highly probable that most of the residents of the city where the project discussed in this chapter happened would rarely, if ever, have met a single refugee person seeking asylum. In response to the impact of that policy, in September 2002, the Salford RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research) project began. It offered an innovative research approach to tackling issues that were, themselves, new to the agencies...

  19. Appendix: Guidelines funded through the Economic and Social Research Council Seminar Series ‘Eliciting the views of refugee people seeking asylum’
    (pp. 203-206)
  20. Index
    (pp. 207-215)