Palestinian Refugees: Challenges of Repatriation and Development

By Rex Brynen; Roula El-Rifai | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Social capital, transnational kinship and refugee
repatriation process: Some elements for a Palestinian
sociology of return

Sari Hanafi, Shaml, the Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, Ramallah1


INTRODUCTION

Around the world, the experience of repatriating refugees has shown that there are few aid packages available from governments or international organizations to fully support the return process. Social capital, or the capacity of the individual to command scarce resources through adhesion to networks and broader social structures, seems to play an important role in supporting returnees, especially at the beginning of such a process. This chapter will examine the social capital from which Palestinian refugees might benefit in the event that they are allowed to exercise the right of return, and will use an analysis based on the study of economic and social transnational kinship networks of Palestinian refugees. To develop this analysis, a socioeconomic and anthropological survey was conducted in the West Bank and Gaza examining the different types of networks to which individuals have access. The survey also gave particular attention to understanding the processes by which inclusion in (or exclusion from) these networks is sustained. The survey was conducted by the Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, Shaml, in Palestine and Israel, between January and October 2003. Other surveys, like Birzeit University's Survey of Households,2 Fafo3 surveys in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as surveys conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR)4 will also be used for comparison.

This chapter identifies some of the factors influencing patterns of return and transnationalism, and highlights the social and economic

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