In recognition of the complex and multifaceted nature of the Syrian refugee crisis, we take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on insights from both arts and social sciences. We will seek to generate rich original data on the skills, needs and aspirations of young Syrian refugees through face-to-face interviews, and on the corresponding attitudes and belief structures of host populations through public opinion surveys in three receiving states: Lebanon, Greece and the UK. We will analyse this data to derive a list of training and skills needs, which answer to individuals’ own aspirations for their future social and economic roles, whether that is for reintegration in Syria or integration in their host nations.
We will also draw on philosophy to understand and compare the ethical frameworks underlying both migrants’ and host populations’ thinking about their needs, rights and duties. From these, we will formulate impactful recommendations that balance protection and assistance to refugees with the claims and needs of (often deprived) host populations. By framing proposals in terms of concerned parties’ implicit ethical perspectives, we will show how these policy recommendations can be communicated and provide the basis of an overlapping consensus in a context of strained resources and increased inter- and intra-national tension.
To meet this ambitious interdisciplinary aim the project has the following specific research objectives:
1.To analyse the lived experiences, skills, training needs and aspirations of forcibly displaced young Syrians in a comparative context and explore the extent to which their reception in host communities equips them with the knowledge and confidence to begin to plan for their imagined futures;
2.To understand the ways in which young refugees develop 'modern' navigation skills, or conversely what prevents them from developing new life management skills, in order to help them to integrate economically in host communities or prepare for reintegration in Syria.
3.To explore the implicit structures of ethical thinking underlying young Syrians’ self-understandings of their current predicament, how they impact upon their longer term intentions regarding repatriation or settlement, and how they compare to the way that members of the host population think about the rights and wrongs of migration policy.
4.To analyse the drivers of public attitudes of the host populations towards young Syrian refugees and the extent to which these are shaped by materialist considerations such as the social and economic context of the receiving state or socially constructed frames that draw attention to a subset of political and normative considerations.
5.To increase critical thinking and public awareness on the refugee crisis and strengthen collective consciousness by identifying and emphasising needs and ethical frameworks that are shared between refugees and members of the host populations; and
6.To synthesise theoretical insights from migration studies, education, philosophy, political behaviour and sociology, so as to develop a new interdisciplinary framework to study refugees’ opportunities for skill development, integration and/or repatriation, which are attuned to the existing opportunity structures in their home and host countries.