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Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung

14. Digitalization and self-organized migrant logistics

While in current media debates, the use and possession of smartphones was often used to fuel resentments against refugees, explicit and implicit processes of mobile media appropriation become evident in subjective reports and in the few existing scientific studies. Smartphones serve as mobile migration assistants with complex and individualist use types. Their applications regarding navigation, translation, communication with home- and arrival-country and provision of information etc. are indispensable and essential to transnational migration-processes.

Qualitative interviews and quantitative survey

This project surveys the role of mobile and social media as instruments of self-empowerment for refugees on their way to and in Berlin. In a first part, 17 qualitative interviews have been conducted with refugee men and women from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, aged 16 to 38, about their media use, in order to elaborate on the specific media use during the flight. Both media use in the country of origin, and the use since arriving to Germany were discussed.

In a second phase, a quantitative survey has been developed based on the interviews’ outcomes, focusing on awareness and usage of a range of apps. This survey was distributed to approximately 100 participants in reception and emergency shelters for refugees in Berlin.

The data evaluation will examine in what ways refugees use smartphones during their flight and after their arrival in Germany to create autonomous structures that provide help in overcoming concrete problems, such as language barriers or orientation in visits to the authorities. The aim is to develop an understanding of post-migrant media use and to improve the digital sphere of action of refugees in Germany.