Conflicting experiences with welcoming encounters: Narratives of newly arrived refugees in the Netherlands

Younes Younes, Halleh Ghorashi*, Elena Ponzoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Personal networks can be both enabling and constraining in inclusion practices. This study focuses on the contribution of a particular neighborhood initiative for refugees in Amsterdam. Earlier studies have shown that in the specific context of the Netherlands’ welfare state, institutional or citizen initiatives can constrain the actual inclusion of refugees. These studies argue that good intentions do not necessarily lead to inclusion because hierarchal relations reproduce subtle exclu-sionary structures that limit refugees’ inclusion as equals. Yet, building social contacts with locals is essential for inclusion. This article shows the simultaneous presence of inclusion and exclusion by engaging with narratives from Syrian refugees participating in a six‐month housing project initiated in an Amsterdam neighborhood. Residents and volunteers shared responsibilities for organizing daily life in the project. The result was an unexpected combination of Granovetter’s weak and strong ties, what we call “hybrid ties,” that were embedded within neighborhood dynamics and networks. Despite occasional clashes in expectations, this community‐based housing project enabled specific forms of personal relationships (through hybrid ties) that were essential in refugee participants’ later inclusion in the Netherlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Inclusion
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for making this research financially possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal).


  • Cohabiting initiatives
  • Hybrid ties
  • Refugee inclusion
  • Refugee reception
  • Societal participation
  • Unintentional exclusion


Dive into the research topics of 'Conflicting experiences with welcoming encounters: Narratives of newly arrived refugees in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this