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Experiences of Refugee Youth and Families in Hard-to-Survey Areas

Researchers: Howard Ramos1, Steffen Pötzschke2, Débora Maehler2, Hongshu Wang1, Matthew Arkinstall1, Yin Fan2
Affiliation: Western University2, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Science2
Keywords: Social media, refugees, youth and families, small cities, social and cultural integration, settlement, quantitative methodology
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Overview: This study explored refugee settlement and integration in smaller municipalities and secondary cities using social media to connect with hard-to-survey refugee populations.

Objective: to understand the social and cultural integration of refugee youth and families in smaller municipalities and cities and to offer practical insights on conducting research with refugee populations through social media.

Research Justification: Quantitative research on migration in Canada often focuses on large metropolitan areas while smaller municipalities and secondary cities are seldom taken into view. At the same time, research suggests that smaller cities may be very effective in integrating newcomers and that their settlement practices and contextual factors may differ in meaningful ways from larger metropolitan areas.


This study used social networking sites to recruit participants. This sampling method allowed the research team to connect with populations sharing defined traits, such as being an international migrant, in selected localities. This method is well suited for research with migrant populations that may be missed through other sampling frames.


This project is still in progress, so findings are limited. However, preliminary results suggest that social media sites, particularly Facebook are effective at connecting with hard-to-reach populations and that refugee populations readily engage with research conducted through social media.

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