Sense of Community and Conflict-induced Displacement: A Study among Iraqi IDPs in Camps

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This paper examines how experiences of forced displacement impact Sense of Community (SOC). Drawing on original data collected through a survey of 89 Iraqi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) hosted in camps and displaced as a result of the Islamic State (IS) takeover of parts of Iraq’s territory and the subsequent war to dislodge the group, this study explores changes in overall SOC levels as well as in its four elements: Membership, Influence, Needs Fulfilment, and Shared Emotional Connection. The findings show a universal decrease in SOC levels during displacement, yet this decrease is not uniform across demographic groups. Significant variations appear during displacement that were not observable before. Men compared to women felt a stronger decrease in SOC due to the loss of livelihoods and decision-making authority suffered during displacement, which challenge the traditional role of men as main decision-makers in the community and as families’ breadwinners. This also explains the major drop in SOC among those aged 40 and above, which represent the traditional heads-of-household. Additionally, the shared experience of forced displacement seems to have acted as a bonding event among community members, as shown by the Shared Emotional Connection element of SOC becoming the most preponderant during displacement.

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