Acculturation of Syrian refugees in the Netherlands: Religion as social identity and boundary marker

Ayse Safak, F.K. Kunuroglu, Fons van de Vijver, Kutlay Yagmur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We studied the acculturation processes of Syrian refugees in the Netherlands, based on semi-structured in-depth interviews. The study aims to investigate how Syrian refugees perceive the cultural distance caused by the differences and boundaries between Syrian and Dutch culture; how they cope with the boundaries and prejudice that they perceive; and which acculturation orientations they prefer. The research builds mainly on the framework of Berry’s acculturation model. Religion emerges as a prominent issue in the acculturation process and is found to impact acculturation as it is perceived to be a cause of cultural distance, a salient social identity, a bright boundary and a source of prejudice in the host country. Our findings suggest that refugees’ religious identity strongly influences their coping strategies and preferred acculturation orientations. Refugees with low/no religious affiliation were more in favour of an assimilation orientation whereas refugees with strong religious identity preferred an integration orientation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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