The complex dynamics of force and choice: Returnees’ experience and community perceptions in return migration processes

01 January 2019 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Social psychology
Project description

Both within common understandings and scientific studies on migration, a strong distinction is often
made between ‘forced migrant’ and ‘voluntary migrants’ to understand the impact of migration on
those who move. At the same time, the recognition is growing that most migrants experiences
elements of force ánd choice in their migration decision process. This study aims to improve the
understanding of the role of force and choice in migration processes. This is done by studying the
field of return, where force and choice are mostly seen as mutually exclusive categories by policy
makers and researchers, and very little insight exist on how complex experiences of force and choice
influence returnees’ post-return situation. Moreover, we argue that also the members of the
community where migrants return to hold particular perceptions on the forced/voluntary nature of
migrants’ return, which can influence their attitudes towards returnees and the support they are
willing to give, and consequently, returnees’ post-return situation. Therefore, by means of (1)
qualitative interviews with different groups of returnees at different moments of their return
process from Belgium to Ukraine and (2) focus group discussion and questionnaires with community
members, this study will reveal how experiences, perceptions and policy labels of force and choice
influence returnees material situation and overall wellbeing after return.