• Matilde Agner Pedersen
  • Sarah Handest Broe
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis is a qualitative study of young refugees' experiences with participating in the Danish Refugee Council's Youth Network (DFUNK) volunteer youth-to-youth activities. In this context, we have investigated the impact of the young refugees' experiences of participation in those youth-to-youth activities to support their social well-being in their new lives in Denmark. The basis of this study can be found in recent research on the subject surrounding young refugees and their risk of social isolation and failure to thrive due to lack of social networks after having been granted asylum and having been placed at a residential location around the country's municipalities. The group of young refugees in this thesis consists of unaccompanied minors under 18 years of age, young single refugees over 18 and late arrived young refugees, of which the latter two may have arrived with very limited family networks. Common to all these young refugees is that they have very limited or no network and are thus facing the risk of social isolation due to challenges with a lack of network and having to go out and build a social network themselves. The youth meet primarily a network of professionals who will act as their immediate network and support in processes of rebuilding new lives. Here, studies show that young refugees are missing contact with Danes and other young people. This contact can be handled by volunteers, as further research shows that voluntary action can contribute to the general social contact between people who can promote refugees' knowledge of the local environment and enhance their ability to participate herein.
Based on a phenomenological-hermeneutic science theoretical approach, we have conducted interviews with 12 young refugees and have done two participating observations. This was done to collect empirical data to answer the thesis research question: What do young refugees experience to get out of participating in DFUNK’s youth-to-youth activities and how can one understand the meaning of their experiences with these social networks for young refugees social well-being in their lives in Denmark? This should be understood as a two-part research question. From meaning condensation of the total empirical data, we have identified three themes, which together maintain the first part of the problem formulation and then we make a theoretical interpretive analysis to answer the problem formulations second part. In relation to social well-being, we treat three elements of analysis which we understand as relevant for social well-being. These are: to be able to make independent choices, the development of identity and the opportunity to build self-esteem and social skills.
In the first theme we find that young refugees experience the lack of social networks and activities in their daily lives which are reasons for participating in DFUNK. This enables them to promote their language skills and gain insight into their local communities and the young people, both Danish and other refugees, living here. From a late modern theoretical interpretation of these descriptions, one can understand these experiences as an indication that young people have access to information and support to create meaning and to reflect on the opportunities and challenges which young individuals face and are expected to independently be able to navigate and select among. The young refugees can be viewed as facing a double challenge meeting the Danish society in terms of the cultural liberation in late modern western societies and in their lack of opportunities to reach back into their cultural background to form opinion with the new choices to make for their new lives in Denmark. These choices are a prerequisite to develop and shape their own lives. Opportunities to make independent choices is consider to promote social well-being in their new lives in Denmark, which can be concluded that their participations in DFUNK support them in.
In the second theme, we describe the young refugees experiences with DFUNK, which gives them an opportunity to meet cultural diversity and to share their experiences with traditions and cultural backgrounds. Also, they feel that when in the company of other young people focus is not on learning the Danish language and gaining knowledge of Denmark, such as in their language schools, but they acquire skills and knowledge through the fun and cosy activities that provides the framework for the groups. From a late modern theoretical perspective the exchange of cultural backgrounds and traditions may be seen as a form of search processes in which young people develop identity. The groups will have the insight into different lifestyles and ways of life, which equally can support their reinterpretation of their identities as individuals in the new society. The youth-to-youth approach can be interpreted as conducive to the young refugees mirroring and exchange of experiences about being young in Denmark. The participation of young people in youth-to-youth activities is seen as participating in appreciative relationships that support their development of identity. Thus, it is concluded that participation in DFUNK can support the young refugees ability to develop identity.
In the third and final theme, we describe how the young people experience getting help from the volunteers, support each other as refugees, and develop social skills through their participation in DFUNK. This is also theoretically interpreted from a late modern theoretical perspective as well as from a recognition theory perspective. Their experiences can be understood as an indication that the young refugees participate in DFUNK based on their interest and needs to which they can draw on each other's resources. This can also be seen as an expression of a group based on solidarity, where they have the opportunity to contribute with their own skills in order to help others in a mutually appreciative community. The recognition of the individual's unique characteristics can build the young refugees' self-esteem and can reflect in their development of social skills that they can use to expand and sustain new social network
Publication date5 Sept 2014
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
External collaboratorDansk Flygtningehjælps Ungenetværk DFUNK
Lars Feldvoss
ID: 204036412