The attributes of social resilience: understanding refugeesʼ housing choices
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The current literature on migrants' housing experience in Australia and internationally often uses spatial and economic conditions of disadvantage and adverse personal circumstances to frame the description of migrants' resettlement. Even when using positive frameworks, such as inclusion and integration, the focus is on the lack of resources and support. This article uses the conceptual lens of resilience as an alternative framework for describing migrants' resettlement experience. Using the case study of the Sudanese refugees living in the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia, this article describes the settlement process from the migrants' perspective, discussing the link between settlement processes and the housing choices of migrants with a refugee background, using the concept of resilience. In particular, the article focuses on the external triggers that ignite, support and strengthen the different components of the migrants' resilience. These triggers are defined as ‘attributes of resilience'. The study identified four attributes of social resilience applicable and relevant to the housing choices and settlement patterns of the Sudanese refugee migrants settled in Perth. These are: knowledge, skills and learning; community networks; people–place connections; and community infrastructures. The article illustrates how the attributes assisted these migrants in developing tools and mechanisms to build new opportunities and negotiate and access suitable housing opportunities. The findings presented in this article stress the need, within the resettlement experience, to consider housing issues outside the simple provision of affordable and appropriate dwellings, including recognising the relationship between social and spatial domains.
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