ABSTRACTS & PRESENTATIONS
Consumer Acculturation Research: A Review of Key Concepts
For more than two decades, consumer acculturation researchers have studied the process by which immigrants accommodate to foreign consumer cultures. Authors typically approached the subject from various perspectives, beginning with individual perspectives, where the focus was on consumption experiences and practices, moving to cultural perspectives, where the impact of surrounding cultural conditions on immigrant identity were considered, and relational perspectives, where interactions between immigrants and indigenes were explores. The most recently, CCT scholars added an even broader, systemic perspective to explain how and why economic and political actors proactively form an ethnic consumer subject as a distinct socio-economic category. In this presentation, I provide an overview over the key contributions made by this consumer-focussed strand of acculturation theory with the aim of inspiring critical evaluation, inter-field comparison, and ideas of for future research.
Consumption of Ethnic Goods: The Case Study of Eritrean Women in Israel
The presentation will examine the fabric of the emerging relationships between refugee women and ethnic consumption. Based on an empirical study of women from Eritrea living in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I will discuss the ways in which national and ethnic identity is formulated through and in the economic space. By focusing on traditional goods, mainly dress and accessories, the presentation will ask to demonstrate the ways in which ethnic consumption serves as a symbol of prestige and cultural capital in the Eritrean diaspora community. In spite of the refugees’ choice to adopt Western dress in their daily lives, the consumption of luxury items is channeled into the adornment of the traditional clothes, which are saved for special events. While in Eritrea the supply of dresses was limited and the financial means were scarce, upon arriving in Israel repertoire of traditional dresses is enable to enlarge, facilitated by the financial resources that they manage to put aside. Thus, the presentation emphasizes consumerist aspects of being a refugee, which is made possible for the first time, when the refugees become independent economic players in the host society. Despite the exclusion of refugee women, who are pushed into the cultural margins, their forced migration nonetheless provides them with an opportunity to position themselves as a new consumer power in the emerging urban space, which is intended not to merely ratify the social order, but rather to challenge it.
Click here for Tamar Arev’s presentation.
Hunger, Uwe & Reick, Janna:
Determinants of Cooperation with Migrant Organizations
The paper deals with the determents of cooperation with migrant organizations in Germany. It uses the example of a supra-regional, religious adult education organisation which intends to diversify its own institution by cooperating with migrant organisations. At the same time the cooperation also should help the migration organisations in their professionalisation processes and encourage migrants to participate in further trainings. The idea was for the cooperating partners to collectively plan and organise joint education events at three different locations. The project duration was three years (1st of October 2016 until 30th September 2019). During this time, we conducted interviews and participated in cooperation events in three phases: in the initial phase 2016 and early 2017, in the middle phase of the cooperation in 2018 und in the final phase 2019. On the one hand, the project realized many typical pitfalls of cooperation with migrant organisations, such as contradictions in their working formats and structures, misunderstandings in communication and difficulties to cooperate at eye level. On the other hand, participating in the project also yielded many positive results for the cooperating organisations that will likely shape them for years to come. The project initiator achieved what it had set out to achieve: It reformed its internal structures by changing its mission statement and its statute. Among other things, this encouraged the organisation to employ more people with a non-Christian background as well as to include non-Christian member organisations under their institutional roof. At the same time, the many of the migrant organisations were able to achieve their goals of professionalisation, for example by becoming a registered association. At the same time, some migrant organisations also learned to abandon prejudices and fears, such as a Jewish congregation that invited Muslim refugees into their synagogue for a tour. So, cooperation can be a good tool for intercultural opening and understanding, but it is no means an easy way and nothing on its journey is given for granted. However, intense experiences as in this case will surely help other organisations in other fields.
Click here for the presentation of Uwe Hunger and Janna Reick.
Consumer Acculturation between Consumer Protection and Asylum Policy
Key outcomes of the project ‘Consumer Protection and Consumer Socialization of Refugees’ are presented. Focus is on the continuously neglected consumer acculturation agents. In consumer sociology, central consumer socialization agents are the family, peers and the media, which assist, frame and support the incorporation of norms and values in daily consumption practices. But for refugees trying to figure out the often implicit rules of the new marketplace, it is janitors, security staff, and shop keepers who – if lucky – provide basic support. And while experts from the field of consumer protection assumed that refugees generally lack consumer competence, one of our main results is, that it is more the asylum system in Germany itself, which produces some of the main problems for refugee consumers, at least in the extended time of arrival.
Click here for Katharina Witterhold’s presentation.
Micro-Political Means of Food and Drinking for Syrian Refugees in Belgium
While eating practices fulfil a central role in expressing collective identities, they potentially turn into sites of contention when individuals are forced to migrate.
By drawing upon semi-structured interviews and informal observations with
Syrian refugees in Belgium, this article describes the politics of food and hospitality
through which wider socio-political subjectivities are renegotiated. More
precisely, I argue that three sets of meanings are crucial to understand the
symbolic importance of food and hospitality, and the conditions under which
it feeds into a series of micro-political struggles: (i) the power-infused relations
between hosting and being hosted or between giving and receiving; (ii) a sense
of individual autonomy and dignity; and (iii) the revitalization of collective
selves. By putting these three sets of meanings into practice, Syrian refugees
create intimate bubbles of homeliness that are often subversive to the hostile
environment in which they find themselves.
Click here for Robin Vandevoordt’s presentation.
Insights into the Dietary Behavior of Asylum Seekers in Stuttgart
(Co-Authors: Khan S, Fischer F, Schmitt R, Fülle J, Jeremias T, Abou-Rizk J, Al-Sayed L, Ghaziani S, Masserrat N, Schüle E)
As only scarce data exists about the dietary behavior of asylum seekers in Germany, explorative quantitative and qualitative investigations were conducted in four communal accommodations of Stuttgart, Germany.
In 2016, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 96 asylum seekers (2/3 women and 1/3 men) from Near and Middle East as well as African countries. The investigations included structured interviews about nutrition patterns in their home countries, during migration and after arrival in Germany as well as anthropometric measurements and 24-hour dietary recalls. One year later, a qualitative survey based on focus group discussions and participatory observations was carried out among female asylum seekers in the same setting.
It has been shown that the food choices of study participants were shaped to a large extent by traditional preferences of their home country. With respect to food taboos, specific dietary restrictions existed especially for women during pregnancy, child birth and lactation. During migration, most frequently a monotonous diet based on bread, dried or canned foods was consumed. The time during their stay in reception centers in Germany was dominated by insecurity, stress and language problems, and consequently nutrition issues were not seen as a priority. After the asylum seekers had moved to communal accommodations with access to a kitchen, two thirds of them missed adequate information about local food supply and access to `halal´ food products. In addition, the flavor of certain food items such as frozen fish, some vegetables and fruits was perceived unfamiliar. In comparison to their home country, nearly half of the respondents reported a reduced consumption of fish and red meat, and one third mentioned an increased intake of fruits and soft drinks. Based on 24-h dietary recalls, the alimentary intake of fat was high, whereas the intake of important micronutrients was rather low compared to international recommendations. Anthropometric assessments revealed a high prevalence of overweight/obesity, especially among women, who often were physically inactive. Culture specific gender norms as well as traditional beauty ideals may have contributed to these findings. In 2017, the results of qualitative investigations revealed that certain modes of acculturation regarding food choices and cooking practices were taking place. With an increasing length of stay in Stuttgart, a growing acceptance of previously unknown foods was expressed and quasi bi-cultural nutrition patterns were developed. As a consequence of new daily routines, traditional dietary habits were vanishing while ready-made meals were increasingly consumed. However, the majority of asylum-seekers continued to consume the staple foods of their home country. Especially during weekends, traditional dishes were prepared and often consumed in companionship with other immigrants. With respect to infant and young child feeding, the favorable practice of long-term breastfeeding was retained. However, traditional practices such as offering prelacteal feeds, denial of colostrum, and introducing breast milk substitutes or complementary foods earlier than recommended were also continued. Some of these culturally determined feeding practices are in line with the desire for an overweight/chubby child, which is perceived as a sign of health.
Traditional food choices and eating/child feeding habits continue to influence the nutrition behavior of asylum seekers in the host country. At the same time certain eating practices of the host country were adapted accordingly.
Click here for Veronika Scherbaum’s presentation.
(Co-Authors: Abou-Rizk J., Nasreddine L., Jomaa L., Hwalla N., Frank J., Scherbaum)
Young Child Nutrition among Syrian Refugees in Greater Beirut, Lebanon
In 2011 at the onset of the Syrian humanitarian crisis, refugees started to flee to Lebanon and settled all over the country with a concentration in the capital city of Beirut. The host country has been supporting the refugees with access to health care services. The nutritional needs among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) as well as infants and young children (0-5 years) are high and often overlooked.
The main aim of this research project was to assess the prevalence of anemia among Syrian mothers of reproductive age (15-49 years) and their young children (0-5 years) and its associated factors to design preventative, food-based interventions. The research project consists of two phases, a cross-sectional study (Phase 1) and an interventional study (Phase 2). Phase 1 was conducted among 444 Syrian mothers-children pairs attending Primary Health Care Centers in deprived locations of Greater Beirut, from July to September 2018. Issues with young child feeding practices among Syrian children are highlighted here.
A quarter of the children in the study was below 6 months of age, half of the children in the complementary feeding age group (6-23 months of age) and a quarter of the children in the older age group (24-59 months). The majority of the Syrian mothers is below 35 years of age and is literate. Nearly all women are housewives. Most fathers had a job, but with an income below the minimum wage of 500 USD. A third of all children under 5 years and one fifth of all mothers were suffering from anemia (using WHO cut-off definitions for hemoglobin). The majority of women have heard of anemia before and reported dizziness as one of the main symptoms. However, they could not well identify symptoms of anemia in their child.
Nearly all children were ever breastfed and half of the children were breastfed at the age of one year. The introduction of complementary foods at 6-8 months was high (82%) but many women stated that they would delay the introduction of nutrient-rich foods like meat and legumes until the child is at least 12 if not 18 months old. This could partly explain the high anemia prevalence among the children in the complementary feeding age group compared to the other age groups. By the age of 18 months all mothers had introduced complementary foods and during interviews most mothers stated that they believe the child is now ready to eat anything. However, the feeding of snacks with a low nutrient density such as chips and chocolate seemed to be common.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The high prevalence of anemia among the children of the complementary feeding age group and the delayed introduction of healthy complementary foods is of concern. Knowledge on adequate child feeding practices seems to be low among Syrian refugee mothers. Further factors associated with the observed poor young child feeding practices need to be analyzed and understood to tailor the nutrition education intervention of Phase 2 to the needs of the Syrian mothers.
Consumption & the Long Term Process of Acculturation: Generations in the Digital Age
Sometimes born to refugee parents, “second generations” in France are increasingly part of an educated and influential middle class that claims its full participation as citizen and as consumer. This cosmopolitan elite (Calhoun, 2003; Hannerz, 1990) is young, digitally-connected and asserting its presence in travel, food, education and fashion. Nevertheless, in recurring political and media debates in France, they are often portrayed as “not integrated”, especially young women who choose to dress modestly. Through different field works conducted in the Paris area on beauty and clothing consumption practices, my contribution will address this paradox of integration in everyday life taking the actor’s point of view. It will show that these young women, through their double presence in the world – as French and as global citizens – are powerful agents of change of the dominant material culture and are remaking the mainstream. Social media and far-reaching communities are empowering them to “come out” through consumption and to develop their own identity project, despite gendered and racialized discourses.
Click here for Virginie Silhouette-Dercourt’s presentation.
Food-Related Well-Being in a Diaspora Situation: The Psychological Dimension
Eating practices revealed to have a substantial impact on the well-being of individuals. When people are forced to migrate, it is equivocal how their understanding of food-related well-being will be reshaped. By drawing upon 34 semi-structured interviews with Syrian refugees in Germany, this article presents an in-depth investigation of the psychological dimension of food-related well-being in a diaspora situation. Specifically, my argument is that well-being in a food context is endowed with various psychological meanings. Food is used as a way to connect people with their roots and to alleviate the drastic changes in their lives in exile. Therefore, they express a strong affinity to their past food-related life and a constant comparison between what they are used to and what is currently available to them in the new food environment. They have a positive relationship to food, where food plays a comforting role or is used as a way to mentally block themselves against their thoughts and worries. Moreover, interviewed persons articulated a low autonomy and weak environmental mastery over food choices, which is translated differently according to the stage of displacement. They expressed their desires, which lacks motivation and guidance, to learn and improve their dietary behavior to enhance their physical and psychological health. The insights gained from this research are useful to obtain a better understanding of the challenges faced by refugees and to find new strategies on how to use food as a way to ease the integration process and improve their overall well-being.
Click here for Lubana Al-Sayed’s presentation.