New Media Presence in the Integration Process of Refugees in Istanbul

  • Fırat Tufan İstanbul Üniversitesi, İletişim Fakültesi, Kişilerarası İletişim Anabilim Dalı
  • Jan Olendzki Wroclaw University, Journalism and Social Communication
Anahtar Kelimeler: Refugees, new media, social media, integration process.


For the last three years, the public debate has been dominated by the issue of refugees, trying to make their way from areas of Middle East into Europe. Since the signing of the EU-Turkish agreement regarding refugees in March 2016, the majority of these individuals has been diverted to Turkey. The process of the rapid migration of refugees in such a short period of time and their efforts to hold on to new living space have led to serious integration problems in terms of both their own and the host local communities. While facing new challenges arriving from the integration process, cultural differences to the hosting society, and the search for a new identity, it is crucial to realize the importance of new media that plays an important role in their attempt to acclimatize. Interaction competence of the new media has the capacity to help refugees in their integration process. Local or national media gives a certain portrayal of refugees and their home countries. This portrayal can be manipulated in different ways by the reasons of national and international political concerns. Therefore, understanding media trends and the possibilities of new media are crucial in understanding a refugee’s political and social perspective.With the advancement of new media applications and creative technologies aiming to help integration process of refugees in their newfound asylums, this article focuses on exploring the existing communicational habits of refugees in new media, and the possibilities that new media offer to ease their integration with the Turkish society in Istanbul. The study analyzes results drawn from an empirical observation and in-depth interviews conducted with a varied group of refugees living in Istanbul, examining their interaction with new media concerning key aspects that aid their integration with the local community. Such aspects revolve around matters of personal rights, education, cultural identity, employment, and finding acceptance. Moreover, considering the technological potential offered by new media, this research contemplates the level of connection between the refugees and their home countries. The research presents a qualitative study of 8 refugees from Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan that are currently living in Istanbul. Apart from the interview with 8 refugees, within the scope of the study, Aline Joubert, the media relations coordinator of "Small Projects Istanbul" which is a non-governmental organization working for the benefit of refugees, was also interviewed. The purpose of the study is to investigate the communicational habits and the ways for new media usage of refugees throughout the process of integrating with the local society. 


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