UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of social ties in the process of settlement of migrant survivors of political violence : a critical ethnographic study Elez, Tatjana


In spite of the growing numbers of civilians who are fleeing their homes for the reasons of political violence, migrant survivors of political violence are significantly overlooked in psychological theory and research. In addition, clinical and social practices and polices involving this population are seldom based on empirical findings. Even though established psychological literature identifies the significant positive role of social factors in coping with stress, trauma, and life transitions, the role of social relationships in the successful settlement of migrant survivors has seldom been explored. Due to a lack of attention to the needs of migrant survivors, and psychology’s narrow research focus on individual “pathology”, little is known about factors, such as social ties, that may contribute to successful settlement outcomes of this population. This critical ethnographic study explored the diverse experiences and roles of social ties in the process of settlement for 8 migrant survivors of political violence residing in Vancouver and Winnipeg. The research design of this study involved three distinct, yet tightly interwoven, stages: reflexivity, dialogical stage, and system’s analysis, based on information collected in the interviews, participant observation, and conversations with 8 providers of clinical services. The results of the current study contribute to Counselling Psychology’s theoretical literature on transition and multiculturalism by identifying and describing various types of migrant survivors’ social ties and their diverse roles in the participants’ settlement process. In contrast to linear, universalizing, and apolitical psychological theories of acculturation, these results suggest a conceptualization of settlement as a continuous, dynamic, interactive, and social process rooted in its larger socio-political and economic contexts. In addition to their theoretical value, these results will serve to inform clinical and social practices designed to aid settlement of migrant survivors of political violence.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada