A Homogenising ‘We-Discourse’ and the Social Positioning of Syrian Refugee Entrepreneurs in Jordan: The Business of Hope and the Politics of Misery

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
John LEVER, University of Huddersfield Business School, United Kingdom, Management, United Kingdom
Deema REFAI, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Radi HALOUB, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Just as Palestinian refugees have been radicalized in camps in Lebanon and Jordan in recent decades, so the arrival of 650,000 Syrians in Jordanian camps over the last few years has led to concerns about radicalization. In this figurational context, a lot depends on how long refugees stay in the camps, as well as the opportunities they have to move forward in their lives. Refugees need to have hope that their situation will one day improve, or they will soon come to express dissatisfaction with their situation. Drawing on recent work on the experiences of aspiring Syrian entrepreneurs in Jordan, we explore the refugee ‘we-discourse’ (Worm et al. 2016) that has emerged as a result of the torturous emotional ordeal of loosing possessions, family and friends, as well as not knowing what the future holds. Although the ‘we-discourse’ of the refugees highlights the problems the community has to deal with collectively, restrictions on work and self-employment mean that the community suffers from a distinct lack of social cohesion, with refugees being forced to survive as individuals rather than as a group. Young men are particularly vulnerable in this context. As their efforts to find work or earn a living through entrepreneurship in the informal economy are restricted, so their plans to emigrate west also flounder. As anxiety grows and feelings of discrimination increase, frustration and dissatisfaction flourish, conditions that have been associated with radicalisation.