International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

How do you acculturate when neighbors are throwing rocks in your window? Preserving the contexts of Somali refugee housing issues in policy

Pauline B. Guerin1,2*, Bernard Guerin3 and Fatuma Hussein Elmi4
1Pennsylvania State University, Brandywine Campus, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063, United States. 2Flinders University of South Australia, Sturt Road, Bedford Park SA 5042, Australia. 3University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes Boulevard, Mawson Lakes SA 5095, Australia. 4Waikato Somali Community, New Zealand.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 08 January 2013
  •  Published: 31 March 2013



Appropriate housing for refugees in Western countries is a major contributor to successful resettlement. Agencies responsible for refugee resettlement often find themselves contemplating whether to 1) house refugees close to each other (example, ‘ethnic enclaves’) or 2) disperse refugees to facilitate acculturation. We describe our community-based participatory research including in-depth interviews and ethnography with a Somali refugee community in New Zealand. We discuss four themes related to housing and the dilemma of where refugees should be housed. Themes included: the perception that housing was inadequate; a preference for housing to be located closer to services and family support; personal experiences of racism and discrimination, and a desire for improved consultation in relation to housing matters. We also describe methods for preserving the contextual detail of such complex issues for both policy and community development.


Key words: Refugee, housing, policy, contextualizing, community-based.