Ethnographic Study of Facebook Usage among the Persian and Arabic- Speaking Refugees and Asylum seekers in Asylum Center in Utrecht
Sameti Pour, A.
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This research project studies the perception of Facebook ethnic spaces among a sample group of refugees and asylum seekers, who are residents of the asylum center in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I have conducted this ethnographic research project to investigate and report the experiences of refugees in using Facebook groups and pages which are made and run by refugees in their own languages. These ethnic spaces within Facebook, arguably inform refugees about the host society and are spaces of language learning, sharing experiences and finding new friends. Based on the characteristics of such spaces, this research considers them as a type of ethnic media. It is reported by the interviewees that these ethnic spaces, enhance collective learning which can contribute to what academically is known as the social capital. After briefly addressing the current Dutch asylum process and efforts to help refugees learn the Dutch language, this research explains the findings through interviews with a sample group of refugees and asylum seekers in the AZC Utrecht. For this project, 15 people were interviewed in their residence or public places in the city. They are from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The findings of this research indicate that all of the interviewed Persian and Arabic-speaking refugees have memberships in at least one ethnic space within Facebook. They use these spaces for gaining and sharing information about the host society, learning Dutch, reading news about the Netherlands, and to learn about activities for refugees offered by local organizations, as well as making new connections.