From 2015 onwards, Europe has witnessed a large influx of refugees. One European country, the Netherlands, predominantly received refugees originating from Syria and Eritrea. Once refugees arrive in the Netherlands and request asylum, the acculturation process begins; they are demanded by the host government to assimilate into the host culture by acquiring the language and the cultural practices of the host society. Language and cultural knowledge are considered to be important facilitators of successful acculturation, without obtaining knowledge of the culture and the language of their new surroundings refugees are unable to participate in the host country. Previous exploratory media-centric studies have found that digital media technologies are to an increasing extent able to facilitate the process of acculturation. Digital media technologies are employed to learn the language and the culture of the host society. However, due to the media-centric nature of these studies they risk missing the bigger picture of refugees’ practices that constitute acculturation and that shape and are shaped by the use of digital media technologies. A non-media centric theoretical approach is required to assess to what extent and in which ways digital media technologies are integrated in the everyday lives of Syrian and Eritrean refugees in the Netherlands and how digital media technologies influence the acculturation process of Syrian and Eritrean refugees in the Netherlands. This study employs a combination of semi-structured informal qualitative interviews and the visual ethnographic method of the life-story map to explore the use of digital media technologies by refugees as well as their potential facilitating role in the acculturation process in the Netherlands. The results indicate that digital media technologies are integrated in the everyday lives of the Syrian and Eritrean refugee participants. The participants use digital media technologies, particularly smartphones, in order to access information and to communicate. Additionally this study determined that digital media technologies are partly (i.e. in combination with additional methods) able to facilitate the acculturation process of the participants in the study. The participants employ social media to learn from experiences of other migrants and they use YouTube to access information about the history and culture of the host society. Syrian and Eritrean refugees also learn the language of the host society by consuming online content, by using online translating services and by practicing their language skills through online communication applications. These results provide policy makers with important information about the usability of digital media technologies for the purpose of acculturation. By drawing on these insights, policy makers could alter their policies accordingly.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, culture, society, acculturation, digital media technologies, language, non-media centric approach, refugees
Thesis Advisor A. Paz Alencar
Persistent URL
Series Media, Culture & Society
N. van Ouwerkerk. (2018, July 6). “Mediatized refugees”: Exploring the role of digital media technologies in the acculturation of refugees. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from