Jana Kuhlemann
Linking refugees’ time perceptions and their time use

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, In Press: (publ. online before print)
ISSN: 1369-183X (print), 1469-9451 (online)

Previous research has described the unique time perceptions of refugees. These have consequences for many areas of their lives: Perception of time should be expressed in the use of time, and ultimately affect the integration of refugees. The present study systematically explores this link between refugees’ time perceptions and their manifestation in patterns of time use. Data from semi-structured interviews with 18 young Syrian and Afghan refugees in Germany and five Germans with migration background were used. Results show that refugees’ time perceptions varied according to their ability to assimilate to the host country’s temporal rhythm, as well as their perception of being in control of their lives. The analysis of time use showed two groups of respondents who invested a lot of time in structured activities (employment, education) and one group of those who did not. Respondents who mostly invested time in structured activities were likely to have time perceptions characterised by either assimilation to the host country rhythm or by the attempt to navigate both home and host country rhythm at the same time, while enjoying the freedom of engagement in activities that would not be available in the home country.