Understanding Political Integration Among Syrian Refugees in Calgary


  • Mathew Vitale The University of Calgary
  • Leah Hamilton Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary




Newcomers to Canada are essential for the nation's cultural and economic vitality. However, research has primarily focused on immigrant integration, overlooking refugees. This study aims to fill this gap by examining the political integration of Syrian refugees in Calgary, Alberta, based on 21 semi-structured interviews. Specifically, it seeks to answer two main questions. First, what factors facilitate the attitudinal and behavioural political integration of Syrian refugees in Calgary? Second, what is the role of social capital in facilitating the attitudinal and behavioural political integration of refugees? Utilizing deductive thematic analysis, the study uncovers a need for enhanced political education. It also identifies the impact of individual variables like news consumption and political interest. A sense of belonging to Canadian society also emerged as an influential factor in political integration. Moreover, social capital, exemplified through membership in organizations, increased political participation and a sense of belonging. These findings suggest the need for new theories specifically focused on refugee political integration.

            Key words: political integration, syrian refugees, social capital, sense of belonging, canada

Author Biography

Leah Hamilton, Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary

Leah Hamilton is Vice Dean, Research and Community Relations and Professor of Organizational Behaviour in the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, Mount Royal University. She is also Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Human Resources, Bissett School of Business; and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Calgary. 

Leah is a community-engaged scholar whose program of research focuses on the social and economic integration of immigrants and refugees in Canada. She frequently collaborates on projects commissioned by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and Government of Alberta. She has extensive experience conducting community-based research with the settlement sector. She is also interested in economic integration more broadly, and has done several projects examining factors that affect the employability of undergraduate students. Her research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Social Sciences & Humanities