ERG SES H 03, Migration and Transition in Education
The paper discusses, how Third Space theories could be used to research transcultural learning at NGOs working with refugees and asylum seekers. The purpose of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it aims to discuss the importance of exploring learning processes at NGOs. Secondly, it analyzes the concept of Third space in the context of transcultural learning. In particular, it explores how Third Space theories could be used to explore transcultural learning at NGOs working with refugees and asylum seekers.
Experiences, which people gain at work and volunteering can be important for their professional and personal development ( Beckett& Hager, 2002). Although informal learning is getting recognized in the context of lifelong learning paradigm, there is a lack of educational theories, which can reveal the learning processes happening in non-governmental organizations (Le Clus, 2011; Gohlich, 2016). Experiential learning can have a transformatory power (Usher, 2009). Contemporary person faces the variety of experiences, they are constantly created and shaped and influenced by various choices, views and media (Usher, 2009). However, Erickson (2012) research revealed that volunteers can sometimes impose hegemonic practices of care working with refugees. Robinson (2013) research revealed that social workers frequently face various challenges and value training and supervision. The questions about refugee inclusion are especially important for Europe and in the international context. 538 000 people recieved a status of refugee in Europe in 2017 (Statistical Office of the European Communities, 2018). Dempster&Hardgrave (2017) research revealed that people have contradictory feelings about refugees. NGOs have an important role in integrating refugees and fostering a dialog between refugees and people from host communities. Therefore, it is important to explore transcultural learning process of people working with refugees and asylum seekers and understand, how they construct their identities, face challenges and learn at work situations.
Third space theory is frequently used to understand dynamic learning processes (Shavard, 2014). In Bhabba‘s (1994) theory Third space is understood as space inbetween, where multiple and hybrid identities can exist and be created (Bhabba, 1994; Roy, 2017). This understanding is closely related to transformatory and performatory understanding of communication and identity (Feng, 2009). Kalscheuer (2009) argues that Third space offers space to learn from other culture, such space is temporary, contradictory, constantly changing and creative. It offers opportunity for marginalized people to deconstruct identities and create resistance movements (Kalscheuer, 2009). Bhabba (1994) in his theory of Third Space use the concept of hibridity, which means new form of identity, where different elements are connected in space in between different cultures, where new and creative identity forms can be developed and resist dominant discourses. When people from different cultures meet, they can consider their identities, the boundaries between them can become flexible, they can exhange values, take some cultural elements from each other, learn new things, perform and change their identities. The concept challenges notions of stable identity, because a person needs constantly change facing differences, reflecting and re-thinking own position and positions of others (Kalscheuer, 2009). Soja (2009) connects Third Space with the concept of space and physical place. According to Soja (2009) Third Space can be a meeting place of different people and idealogies, whre the boundaries between them can become fluid and changing. This paper explores research studies, which use the concept of Third space theory to research transcultural learning, discuss the advantages and challenges of using this theory to explore transcultural learning. The paper also discusses how it can be applied for researching transcultural learning at NGOs working with refugess and asylum seekers.
This paper uses a theoretical conceptual analysis. It analyzes the key concept of Third Space in the context of work with refugees and asylum seekers and discusses, how it could be used to research transcultural learning. A critical analysis of literature and research studies in relation to Third space concept led to the development of a critical stance and identification of recommendations to inform further research and practice.
Third Space theories are increasingly used in Educational studies and are especially useful to embrace uncertainty of intercultural contact. Third Space theory can help to challenge dominant concepts of culture and intercultural learning based on the narratives of essentialists. The theory offers useful concepts, which challenge oppositional understanding of reality and definitions of people, which can be restricting and stigmatizing (Feng, 2009). Work with refugees and asylum seekers can be challenging and it can be difficult to build respectful dialogue and relationships and help for people coming from various and diverse cultures. Space, where people from different cultures can interact with each other can create conditions for transformative learning. Transcultural learning of people working with refugees and asylum seekers is not widely reasearched. Therefore, it is important to research how people working with refugees and asylum seekers are learning in their daily work situations. Various training events and intervention in work with refugees and asylum seekers are based on essentialist ideas of culture. The theories exploring transcultural learning, hybrid identities and Third space theory can be useful researching the learning process of workers and volunteers and challenge dominant narratives based on the ideas based on essentialists‘ ideas.
Bibliography Beckett, D.& Hager, P. (2002). Life, work and learning: Practice in postmodernity. Routledge International Studies in the Philosophyof Education, 14. London: Routledge. Retrieved https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1152&context=ecuworks2011. Bhabha, H.K. (1994). The Location of Culture. London, Routledge. Dempster, H.& Hardgrave, K. (2017). Understanding public attitudes towards Refugees and migrants. London: Overseas Development Institute. Retrieved from https://euagenda.eu/upload/publications/untitled-92767-ea.pdf. Erickson, J. (2012). Volunteering With Refugees: Neoliberalism, Hegemony, and (Senior) Citizenship. Human Organization: 71 (2), 167-175. DOI: 10.17730/humo.71.2.152h5843163031pr Feng, A.W. (2009). Becoming interculturally competent in a third space. In: Feng, A.W., Byram, M. & M. Fleming (eds.) Becoming interculturally competent through education and training. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 71-91. Göhlich, M. (2016). Theories of Organizational Learning as resources of Organizational Education, 18, 11-21. In Organisation und Theorie. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-10086-5_2. Kalscheuer, B. (2009). Encounters in the Third Space: Links Between Intercultural Communication Theories and Postcolonial Approaches.In Ikas and Wagner (ed) Communicating in Third Space, 26-46. Le Clus, M. A. (2011). Informal learning in the workplace: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 51(2), 355-37. Retrieved from: https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1152&context=ecuworks2011. Robinson, K. (2013). Voices from the Front Line: Social Work with Refugees and Asylum Seekersin Australia and the UK. British Journal of Social Work, 1–19. DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bct040. Roy,K. (2017). Cultural Identity and Third Space: An Exploration of their Connection in a Title I School. Doctoral Thesis. Retrieved from: Arizona State University. https://repository.asu.edu/attachments/191105/content/Roy_asu_0010E_17220.pdf Shavard, G. (2014). Learning in Third Spaces. A study examining non-formal educational practices in the multicultural sociocultural landscapes of Oslo and Moscow. Oslo:Oslo and Akernus University College of Applied Sciences. Retrieved from: https://oda.hioa.no/nb/learning-in-third-spaces-a-study-examining-non-formal-educational-practices-in-the-multicultural-sociocultural-landscapes-of-oslo-and-moscow/asset/dspace:6674/Shavard_Galina.pdf. Soja, E.W. (2009). Thirdspace: Toward a new consciousness of space and spatiality. In: Ikas, K, Wagner, G (eds) Communicating in the Third Space, 49-62. Statistical Office of the European Communities. (2018). EUROSTAT: Asylum statistics. Luxembourg: Eurostat. Retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics. Access [2018.07.24] Usher, R. et al. (2009). Adult Education and the postmodern challenge. London:Routledge.
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