Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Habitus and the reasons and intentions for residential mobility and homeownership: A mixed-method study among former refugees in Buffalo
by Poppe, Wilfried, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2010, 198; 3423596
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to analyze residential mobility and homeownership as integral elements of the early refugee settlement process and the different meanings refugees assign to residential mobility and homeownership. This study is concerned with the following two research questions: Why do former refugees move to specific residential locations? and Why do former refugees buy houses?

Current theories of immigrant settlement fail to acknowledge the diversity of pre-arrival and early arrival experiences of refugees in the United States. The research focuses on the reasons and intentions for residential mobility and homeownership among former refugees in Buffalo. The habitus – individual dispositions – is the main driver for residential behavior within structural frameworks of resettlement policies, housing market conditions, homeowner programs and residential discrimination. Residential mobility and homeownership are products of the embeddedness, pro-activism and intentionality of the former refugees.

This study combines qualitative, quantitative and mapping techniques in a complementary way to answer the research questions and let themes, patterns and eventually theory emerge. Within this mixed-method framework, ethnographic tools such as semi- and unstructured interviews constitute the core of this study. The non-random sample consists of 34 resettled refugees from 11 countries who are homeowners and reside in the Buffalo metro area.

The first main conclusion of this study is that residential mobility and homeownership contribute to the reconstruction and transformation of refugees’ lives by compensating for past losses and providing future opportunities. The second main conclusion is that the motivations for residential mobility and homeownership can be linked to past experiences before flight. Therefore, the reconstruction and transformation of refugees’ lives is spatially situated and residential mobility and homeownership are shaped by history.

Key words: refugee resettlement, residential mobility, homeownership, habitus, mixed methods

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rogerson, Peter A.
Commitee: Metcalf, Sara, Percy Kraly, Ellen, Poon, Jessie P.
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography
Keywords: Habitus, Homeownership, Mixed methods, New York, Refugee resettlement, Residential mobility
Publication Number: 3423596
ISBN: 978-1-124-24635-2
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