FMP/ Migrant Integration — 04. Information Visualisation and Synthesis
In the next phase of exploratory research, a thorough analysis of the interviews took place. At first, I re-ran through the videos several times to grasp important information manifested in visual expressions and narrative descriptions. Later, the key details related to research goal were summed up in the form of empathy maps and word clouds that were drawn for each participant. This helped in uncovering those gaps which pointed out the need and direction for further research.
Drawing Empathy for Abbas and Fatma
So here, participants (migrants) were re-imagined as users to be empathised with. This was done by analysing what they felt, thought, heard and saw; and recording details of how they perceived their gains and pains related to a specific a situation. The situation in the this case was: life in the UK.
Abbas contributed many insights from his journey. He said that after coming to Scotland, his life had become organised which allowed him more free time to spend with his family and doing hobbies. He added that he would have liked to bring three things from the UK to Iraq: technology, system and the language English; while only one from Iraq to the UK — sociability. The latter came across as the main pain point of living in the UK. To support this, he described about his experience of studying at university during which Abbas wasn’t able to talk to many people; specially the natives as they appeared reticent. He propounded that this subject should be taken up by research candidates at organisations with a focus on findings ways to simplify encoding/decoding for outsiders in a new communication culture; British, in this case. He also felt that for migrants, understanding the culture of their destination place before they actually arrive could be a big step towards effective onboarding.
Fatma, on the other hand said that she would have liked to meet people from different cultures. Also, she didn’t speak English so pursuing a job or just going out to market for buying groceries became challenging tasks for her. But she considered quietness in the city of Edinburgh a gain to be most cherished and added that listening to bird songs early in the morning cheered her up. The pain points emphasised by her included not being able to find many options for enjoying Kurdish cuisine in the city and and being away from her extended family. Fatma also felt distressed for her children not being able to play indoors because of neighbours complaining.
To culminate, an interesting perspective was highlighted by Abbas on the difference of communication cultures existing between collectivist and individualist countries. He mentioned that in Iraq, people would often extend assistance to others without being asked for; whereas he observed in Britain that any help made is not accepted if it can’t be reciprocated.
What they said without saying
Borrowing knowledge gained in the previous phase of ethnographic observations, I was reasonably able to implement experience of kinesics in decoding participants’ body language. For example, when Abbas went slow and insisted that “it is very, very ..very needed” when speaking about establishing relationship with the locals; all the while moving his head from side to side and slightly raising eyebrows, it signalled his urging for that change to be materialised. He used a lot of hand gestures to emphasise other points. Fatma sat with her hands closed most of the time, only occasionally opening to express an answer in Arabic. She smiled frequently but sat stiffly near to Abbas. This showed that as an immigrant, she was forced to be co-dependent. Her comprehension of life in the UK was not entirely informed by her lived experiences, but significantly apprised from understanding relayed from her partner’s side.
The Need for Social Integration
From the interviews, I was able to infer that migrants are disadvantaged as social actors because it was hard for them to penetrate into a new social network, specially that of a low-context culture such as Britain’s. Doing a thorough review of the available literature on this subject, I realised social mixing is a key factor of integration for migrants. Therefore, I aimed to investigate social aspect of integration going forward into the project.
Feedback from Tutors
It was the first time after summer break that we were supposed to report project progress to our tutors. Upon discussing my progress with John and Alaistair in an online tutorial, I was instructed to start doing rapid prototyping. They encouraged me to go out in the public and test their behaviour through an experimental probe, for example: setting up a lemonade stand in front of Sainsbury’s. John advised me to look up into the field of social design and to learn how it is practised. For the interviews, tutors appreciated my way of conducting it which helped to generate personal connection and intimacy with the participants.
Fernández-Reino, M. and Rienzo, D.C. (no date) Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview. The University of Oxford. Available at: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/migrants-in-the-uk-labour-market-an-overview/ (Accessed: 10 November 2021).
Kierans, D. (2021) Integration in the UK: Understanding the Data. The University of Oxford. Available at: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/reports/integration-in-the-uk-understanding-the-data/ (Accessed: 21 November 2021).