Community Sense of Belonging: Syrian Refugees' Experience in Al-Ramtha Neighborhoods

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Submission Summary
Jordan supports the third-largest population of Syrian refugees in the Middle East. Only 17% of Syrian refugees are living in camp environment. While urban Syrian refugees account for 83% of Syrian refugees in Jordan. The sustained influx of Syrian refugees and the limited capacity of refugee camps have brought urban refugees to the forefront of public refugees' discourse in Jordan. According to Jordanian refugees' policies, urban Syrian refugees' are refugees' living in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Urban refugees' participation in the community and access to opportunities and resources describe the process of their integration. However, research on challenges and personal experiences of urban refugees' that impact their integration into host community remains limited. Despite the various integration variables in the literature, Jordanian integration policies are mostly themed around employment and housing national polices. Yet, social indicators of integration, such as sense of belonging, are being ignored. Sense of Belonging involves people participation in activities and their interaction in public space, which is best practiced on the local level, most specifically, neighborhood level. In spite of its importance, the implementation and development of integration policies at the local level remain limited. The objective of this research is to highlight the gap in integration literature in Jordan by examining sense of belonging as a subjective indicator of integration. The study also explores the relationship between neighborhood environments and refugees' sense of belonging. Therefore, the study will be assessing refugees' sense of belonging through social encounters enacted in a place on the scale of a neighborhood. It will answer two main questions 1) How does neighborhood geographic (place–oriented) and social (people-oriented) component develop a sense of belonging among refugees? And 2) Where do Syrian refugees practice their daily encounters in their neighborhoods? And how it differs in urban and rural settings? To address the research objectives, the study will utilize a qualitative approach consisting of two stages. The first stage will be an analysis of integration policies in Jordan, including national, regional, and local integration policies. The second stage will implement a socio-spatial approach in Al-Ramtha city as a case study. The socio-spatial approach will involve two methods; transect walks and semi-structured interview. A snowball sampling will be used for participant recruitment. The qualitative analysis software NVivo will be used for data coding and analysis, resulting in themes emergence from interviews. Observation maps will be digitized using spatial analysis in ArcGIS. The result expected is that a better integration and community sense of belonging is achieved better with (none) defined places of encounter. Micro places of encounter provide an opportunity for social encounters which develops a sense of belonging among refugees .additionally, the refuges in rural areas define belonging differently compared to those in urban areas. For example, refugees who used to live and resided in rural areas, create more social ties and place-attachment to where they live in the host community. Consequently, the study will show empirical evidence of the necessity to practice integration in Jordan as a bottom-up approach, showing that municipal and local actions can remark refugee integration. Moreover, it will add significance to neighborhood planning principles by understanding the perspective of their resident and how encountering is an active variable of active lifestyle. Keywords: sense of belonging, integration, neighborhoods, encounter, socio-spatial
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7: Shaping Liveable Places
Jordan University of science and technology
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