Short Research Note
Social representations of refugees: Place of origin as a delineating resource
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2009
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology
Volume 19, Issue 6, pages 506–514, November/December 2009
How to Cite
Hanson-Easey, S. and Moloney, G. (2009), Social representations of refugees: Place of origin as a delineating resource. J. Community. Appl. Soc. Psychol., 19: 506–514. doi: 10.1002/casp.1010
- Issue published online: 2 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 16 MAY 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 FEB 2009
- social representations;
- Refugees from Africa;
- core and peripheral elements;
This study investigated social understandings of refugees from Africa in a regional town in NSW, Australia. Drawing from Social Representations Theory (Moscovici, 1984), the study investigated whether place of origin (Africa) mediated understandings held about refugees. Two studies were conducted. In the first study, a between-subjects manipulation using word association tasks revealed that the super-ordinate term Refugees, and Refugees from Africa shared a common core of elements (poor, war). Although sharing a core, these representations were differentiated by peripheral elements which concurred with social understanding of Africa (e.g. disease), and media portrayal of refugees/asylum seekers (e.g. boat). The salience of these meanings in the community was further explored using a self-report questionnaire. Results suggested that place of origin, manifested as peripheral representational elements, may play an important role in differentiating, orientating and linking specific refugee groups to particular socio-political contexts. Further, we contend that place of origin may be understood as a discursive resource, deployed for rhetorical ends. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.