First Advisor

Alex Stepick

Date of Publication

Fall 12-20-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Refugees -- Somalia -- Case studies, Refugees -- Oregon -- Portland -- Case studies, Immigrants -- Oregon -- Portland, Somalis -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions, Somalis -- Oregon -- Portland -- Ethnic identity, Assimilation (Sociology), Refugees -- Services for



Physical Description

1 online resource (xxi, 233 pages)


Since the early 1990s Oregon has witnessed an economic and politically based influx of immigrants and refugees. Most refugees resettled in Oregon initially settled in the greater Portland metro area, and Portland currently ranks eleventh among cities around the country that resettle international refugees. This research focuses on the reception and resettlement experiences of one sub-group of refugees and immigrants: those from Somalia. In the Portland area, Somalis are a largely marginalized social group. They live on the peripheries of society and are often segregated (physically as well as culturally) in what is historically a racially and culturally homogenous state. To date, limited research has focused on the reception experiences and adjustment challenges of the local Somali community.

The intent of this descriptive case study is to explore and record the arrival and adjustment experiences and perspectives of Somali refugees and immigrants, so as to understand their journey of displacement and resettlement holistically. It investigates the context of their acclimatization into US society via the Portland urban area.

It, more specifically, explores the nature of the arrival and adjustment experiences of the community, as well as the factors influencing them. It attempts to understand how these factors and the overall experience of adjustment influence the negotiation and construction of individual and collective identity of the local Somalis. In understanding the overall experience of resettlement within the community, the study also explores how well the needs of the community are met when it comes to support services and other resources for adaptation.

Seventeen participants were interviewed from the community, and they indicated that the journey of adjustment is an on-going one that needs to be understood holistically while incorporating all the stages of exile: from displacement to resettlement. Identity formation and negotiation is a key process that emerged within the narratives, through which the experience of resettlement is maneuvered. Within the local community, identity informs the participation of Somalis within social networks, as well as the myriad social roles they take on as individuals, family members, and community members. This study finds some important similarities and differences in the experiences of the local Somalis with other local and national immigrant and refugee groups.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier