Re-talking Refugees — Heterogeneity & Internal Locus of Control
Here is my issue with some refugees’ self-victimization behaviours in one sentence: It is anti human rights.
When refugees engage themselves in self-victimising narratives they are acting counter human rights, counter their basic pure instinct, and thus allowing their lusts to take control over their rational and spiritual capacities.
Now those self-victimization narratives are -for the most of the time- suffocated by two big weeds:
From Homogeneity to Heterogeneity
Refugees are not a cohesive, hegemonic mass. They are individuals with different social, economic, cultural, physical and psychological capacities. If we want to transform smoothly from that cohesive narrative to a more diversified one, we can do this by showing at least 5 categories of refugees. Again this categorization is still not helpful and in fact -still narrow view and mind to the concept but it will help bridge towards a more diversified colourful picture. So here we have those refugees who:
- Fled their countries because their lives were under temporary or immediate threat.
- Fled their countries because their lives became under years to come threats. Something that is not just temporary but off course also not eternal.
- Fled their countries due to other implications of conflict such as bad economic situation.
- Fled their countries due to the implications of the corruption of a autocratic dictator political regimes there.
- Fled courtiers they were initially residents in due to any of the reasons above but they still can not go back to their orignal counties because their lives will be under threat there too.
Now, let us start widening our angle of perspective more. We can multiply any of the above possibilities by another one or more of the three variables bellow.
- The way they left their countries
- The chances they can go back
- Their demographics
A young Christian woman arriving to Germany does not fit in the same category as a religious senior age Christian male. Although both had arrived from the same city.
So obviously there are different shades, nuances in the term refugee itself. This is why adding the plural ‘s’ make it less colourful, and less humanly conscious. It is of great importance to individuate refugees.
Ironically, even supporters of refugees may use heartrending discourses but fail to individuate them and thus fail to humanize the case.
What is so mutual between all categories and individuals though is that they all are new comers.
Now that we have realized the first weed let us look at the other one.
Locus of control
Humans in general, and not only refuges, usually see their control of life as more internal or external. Off course with different blends of both. We call this ‘locus of control’. Locus in Latin means location. Some people would have a more internal location of control of life where they see themselves in charge of things happening and ultimately responsible for their own successes and failures while others would see the location of control of life siting their somewhere in the outside world but definitely beyond their own capacity of control. It is a continuum, some people are highly on the ‘I’ side while other on the ‘E’ side.
Julian B. Rotter who is also known for developing the social learning theory and one of the most citied eminent psychologists of the 20th century worked hardly to develop the locus control. He published his famous I-E scale to assess internal and external locus of control. What is so beautiful about that scale is it adequate measurement of two interesting concepts: achievement motivation which is associated with internal locus of control & outer directedness (tendency to conform to others) which is associated with external locus of control.
Carol Dweck focuses on the ‘mindset’ : The new psychology of success as her book’s title suggests. She and her team created a continuum where people can be positioned according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Growth mindset vs fixed mindset. Those who believe abilities can be searched, obtained, learned etc. are positioned on the growth mindset side of the continuum, while those who believe that what we are born with or have can not change are poisoned on the opposite side.
So where does this lead us? How can locus of control be linked to the question of REFUGEEs?
Now that we have established the diversity of refugees we can understand there are those amongst them who would see the world and their position in it from a more internal or external locus of control. Those amongst them who perceive their capacities framed by the external locus of control would more likely choose the self-victimizing role. This need to be broken as it is less human rights conscious as it is less attentive to the concept of duties.
When someone is more into the external locus of control they usually believe they are toyed rather than active and influential players over the courses of their own lives. Chances then they will be sincerely contributive to the communities they live in are usually lower. Not because they are mean or uncapable, but because they are usually in the -give me- mindsets rather than -what can i give- ones. They are more into the fixed mindset rather than the growing one. And it follows then, that they are more influenced by their social peers than they are influencing their own courses of lives.
We need though to be aware that one of the main reasons people develop an internal locus of control way of living usually come after trauma events. When people have severe, unexpected external power imposed over their lives where they have no or very little control of the course of their own lives because of the effect of this external power they start to develop that mindset behaviour of focusing on the external rather than the internal. This need to be treated. Most of the budgets allocated to handling crisis in disasters zones (man-made or nature-made) usually focus on materialistic supplies and support but marginally on psychological support. And i am not talking about the traditional psychological visits. because this is history now. I am talking about continuous, continuous mentorship which is now more possible thanks to communication technologies and other socio-cultural developments.
But that explanatory power linking internal locus of control to trauma events should not be misused by some refugees.
Refugees, with internal locus still need to keep their actions within the fairness and no-harm actions-frame. They need to remind themselves that no matter what kind of brutalities they have been exposed to, they still should not allow themselves to project any kind of brutalities on others. We need to remind ourselves that we, as citizens of the world, need to balance our rights with our duties. They need to remind themselves that dignity (and life) stem from doing a chosen work that helps communities we live in. It is true that choice seems not to obvious concept in the mind set of internal locus of control people but this is where humanly conscious media, and particularly this media addressing citizens in conflict zones and times, can play a vital role to ring the bells and blow the whistles of reminders.
Self-victimizing implies a non human agent status because it provides untrue perspective to present realities based on the false argument of lack of resources to a point where self-victimized actor becomes truly incapable. With self-victimizing we engage ourselves with two types of conversations: Self monologues and closed-group influences. Maybe it is time to remind ourselves about the ‘disastrous’ implications of those two types of conversations.
It takes two to tango. The Mutual responsibility
That being said, Heterogeneity of refugees and external locus of control work hand in hand. While at one end we need to make sure our discourses are not seeing refuges as a solid one colour and one texture mass, we also need to ensure refugees are understanding their capacity to rule their own lives forward.
Most of the narratives about refugees tend to focus on ‘their’ vs. ‘our’ rights. The dominant discourses -academia and media alike- are about the ‘needed’, ‘default’, ‘proposed, ‘opposed’ and ‘violated’ rights. But that is too reductionist and simplistic and it also ignore the other half of the story. Because it is not they vs. us. Nor it is their vs. our. It is not about rights only.
It is about duties.
If we can manage the discourses about refugees at both sides, i.e. the internal conversations within internal locus of control refugees and the ‘conversations’ in mainstream media, then maybe we can close many misunderstanding gaps, avoid more conflicts, and better channel this enormous power of human energy crossing the seas and the oceans from one land to another.