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New research explores how everyday practices of hospitality help Syrian refugees maintain a sense of self and belonging while living as ‘displaced persons’

New research from the House of Innovation explores how displaced persons living in extreme precarity engage in mundane everyday organizing practices in order to become recognized as subjects who matter.

Syrian refugees living in informal tented settlements in Lebanon struggle to secure the material means for survival. They also struggle to be recognized as subjects who have a voice and whose lives matter. For this, mundane everyday organizing practices, in the camps and through using digital technologies, play a fundamentally important role.

New research from the House of Innovation, published in the top-ranked journal Organization Studies, explores how displaced persons living in extreme precarity engage in mundane everyday organizing practices in order to become recognized as subjects who matter. By organizing a ‘home’ in the camp, through rituals of cooking and eating, and through arranging a digital ‘home’ online, refugees enact hospitality despite their dire circumstances. Hospitality in relation to others creates relations of recognition that give them a voice, a sense of dignity and self-worth, and hope that change is possible.

Based on field research in Lebanon, the research team from Stockholm School of Economics, Lancaster University, and the Swedish Defence University was able to capture deeper meaning of the activities that were part of life in the camps. Theoretically, the study sheds light on micro-level practices as essential for how subjects become 'subjects that matter' and have a voice; most studies of organizing focus on contexts where this is already taken for granted.

In relation to practice, the study sheds light on the fundamental importance of everyday hospitality practices, in the camps and online, that seem mundane or trivial, but which are essential for regaining a sense of self-worth and belonging, and thus for turning the despair of the camps into ‘undefeated despair’.

The article can be downloaded from here.

Researchers

Lotta Hultin (lotta.hultin@hhs.se)
House of Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics

Lucas D. Introna
Lancaster University Management School

Markus Balázs Göransson
Swedish Defence University

Magnus Mähring
House of Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics

House of Innovation Health Politics Article Paper Research

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