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Special Section on Refugee Integration in a Sharing Economy: Collective Action, Organizational Communication and Digital Technologies

24.06.2020 13:56 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

IJOC: International Journal of Communication

Deadline: July 30, 2020

Editors: Amanda Alencar and Yijing Wang, Erasmus University Rotterdam

The ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and beyond, not only represents an immense humanitarian and logistical challenge, but also poses a challenge to established governance structures. The governance issue refers to the difficulty of planning and preparation at the state and organizational level, due to high uncertainty about the speed and size of the migration flows. The complex and rapidly changing circumstances of forced migration (i.e., migration as a global and regional phenomena) have contributed to enhancing the role and importance of different social actors at the local level of cities in addressing the challenge of refugee integration within host societies. Specifically, local government and non-government actors are at the forefront of providing essential services and responding to these developments. In the meantime, an overall deterioration of state and humanitarian support and services for refugees at various levels of their experiences (e.g., displacement and settlement) is occurring (Skran & Easton-Calabria, 2020). The 'reform and re-treat of the welfare system' has led to decentralization of refugee governance, and the growing importance of a multi-stakeholder approach with public-private partnerships being formed to tackle the challenge of refugee migration and integration in various societies (Wang & Chaudhri, 2019). Also, technological innovations and the so-called digital economy have played a great role in this decentralization (Easton-Calabria, 2019; Udwan, Leurs, & Alencar, 2020). For instance, there was the proliferation of hackathons, coding schools, crowdsourcing initiatives (refugee entrepreneurship), as well as the large numbers of apps developed to assist refugees’ reception and settlement (Kothari & Tsakarestou, 2019).

This global phenomenon is argued as an instantiation of the sharing economy – an economic system built on autonomy which shares concern, help and hope (Kornberger et al., 2018). Some scholars argue that this phenomenon marked the emergence of an ad hoc governance structure, including joint efforts from the public sector, NGOs, private firms, civil society and migrant organizations (Börzel & Risse, 2016). Along with this idea, organizations and private firms voluntarily contribute to refugee management and care (e.g., integrating refugees at the workplace or providing medical support), taking over what are traditionally tasks of the state. Such an ad hoc governance structure built upon challenging organizational legitimacy and inventing new co-creation tools, may contribute to resolving the problem of refugee integration and management. On the other hand, the complexity of multi-level governance systems and collaborations can also generate greater uncertainty about refugee settlement futures.

Further, it is important to emphasize that digital media technologies, data systems and networks are increasingly being employed by these multiple stakeholders (private and public) to help maintain the delivery of inclusive services and promote refugees’ economic participation and well-being in many cities within Europe and elsewhere. However, very little is currently known about the efficacy of these digitally mediated practices for addressing refugees’ integration challenges in their new society. At the same time, there is a lack of work that surveys a diversity of governance actors regarding the development and application of digital technologies, and how this affects refugees’ social participation. A recent study by Myria Georgiou (2019) with refugees in London, Berlin and Athens found that innovative collaborative/co-creative projects within the digital economy framework have brought both challenges and opportunities for refugees and receiving societies. As Georgiou notes, while technology use for refugee governance can enhance economic and sociocultural participation prospects for newcomers, it may also contribute to creating new forms of divide and segmentation among refugees, as well as digital monitoring of their performance in various aspects of integration in the new place. Against this backdrop and given the impact that the current COVID-19 crisis situation has reached at a global level, there is an even more pressing need to shed light on the potentialities and vulnerabilities of digital responses and initiatives put in place by local organizations, migrants and volunteers to fill the gaps in states’ asylum and integration systems during this pandemic.

We are seeking papers that contribute knowledge to how collective action is enabled in a sharing economy in support of refugee integration in a diversity of contexts and situations. It includes, but is not limited to voluntary contribution to refugee management and care at all different levels, from the public sector organizations to private firms, to civil society and refugee-led initiatives and networks. Potential interdisciplinary questions which can be answered are:

1. How does enabling collective action in a sharing economy contribute to resolving the challenge of refugee integration?

2. In areas of limited statehood, which mechanisms help ensure effective governance of displaced populations in a refugee crisis?

3. What forms of organizational communication and action in terms of refugee integration stimulate the emergence of an ad hoc governance structure in the sharing economy?

4. How does media representation of collective action affect the planning and preparation at the state- and organizational-level in refugees’ receiving countries?

5. To what extent are digital technologies being developed and mobilized by different actors involved in an ad hoc governance of refugee populations?

6. How can the public, private and NGO sector work together to effectively boost economic opportunities to both refugees and host communities as well as social cohesion?

Timeline for the special section:

● Please submit abstract proposals (500 - 800 words) and a short bio in one Word document by July 30, 2020 to Amanda Alencar ( and Yijing Wang (

● We will inform authors about the acceptance of their abstracts by August 20, 2020.

● First drafts (6000 - 8900 words, all inclusive) are due January 2021. The submitted paper needs to follow the author guidelines of the International Journal of Communication:

● Each paper will be submitted for peer review by February 2021 (which will be peer reviewed by [at least] two or three external reviewers; editorial decision will not be made based on the collection as a whole, but rather on the merits of each paper).

● Taking into account the reviewing process and time for revisions, we expect the full special section to be published in IJoC by the first or second quarter of 2022.


Allen, W., Anderson, B., Van Hear, N., Sumption, M., Düvell, F., Hough, J., ... & Walker, S. (2018). Who counts in crises? The new geopolitics of international migration and refugee governance. Geopolitics, 23(1), 217-243.

Börzel, T. A., & Risse, T. (2016). Dysfunctional state institutions, trust, and governance in areas of limited statehood. Regulation & Governance, 10(2), 149-160.

Easton-Calabria, E. (2019). The Migrant Union. Digital livelihoods for people on the move. United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved from

Georgiou, M. (2019). City of refuge or digital order? Refugee recognition and the digital governmentality of migration in the city. Television & New Media, 20(6), 600-616.

Kornberger, M., Leixnering, S., Meyer, R. E., & Höllerer, M. A. (2018). Rethinking the sharing economy: The nature and organization of sharing in the 2015 refugee crisis. Academy of Management Discoveries, 4(3), 314-335.

Kothari, A., & Tsakarestou, B. (2019). ‘Hack the Camp’: An entrepreneurial public diplomacy and social intervention initiative to address the refugee crisis in Greece. International Communication Gazette. Advanced online publication.

Skran, C., & Easton-Calabria, E. (2020). Old Concepts Making New History: Refugee Self-reliance, Livelihoods and the ‘Refugee Entrepreneur’. Journal of Refugee Studies, 33(1), 1-21.

Udwan, G., Leurs, K., & Alencar, A. (2020). Digital resilience tactics of Syrian refugees in the Netherlands: Social media for social support, health, and identity. Social Media + Society, in press.

Wang, Y., & Chaudhri, V. (2019). Business support for refugee integration in Europe: Conceptualizing the link with organizational identification. Media and Communication, 7(2), 289-299.



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