Narratives of symbolic objects : exploring relational wellbeing of young refugees living in Scotland, Finland, and Norway

Katisi, Masego and Tonheim, Milfrid and McGregor, Sharon A. and Mubeen, Fath E (2024) Narratives of symbolic objects : exploring relational wellbeing of young refugees living in Scotland, Finland, and Norway. Social Sciences, 13 (1). 43. ISSN 2076-0760 (

[thumbnail of Katisi-etal-SS-2024-exploring-relational-wellbeing-of-young-refugees-living-in-Scotland-Finland-and-Norway]
Text. Filename: Katisi-etal-SS-2024-exploring-relational-wellbeing-of-young-refugees-living-in-Scotland-Finland-and-Norway.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 logo

Download (590kB)| Preview


Background: In this study, objects are used as a representation of relational wellbeing to help young refugees living in Norway, Scotland, and Finland to talk about important persons who make them feel well. At the time of this research, there is no known study that uses objects to facilitate narratives of how young refugees and members of their social networks generate relational wellbeing. Methods: Using a qualitative approach, young refugees participated in individual interviews about the objects they brought to art workshops to understand their experiences, feelings, and acts of wellbeing. Results: Treating each object as unique to the owner was powerful in revealing how relational wellbeing is experienced and expressed. There were overlaps in experiences and expressions of wellbeing, hence our themes of discussion: overlaps between old and new social ties; between time and space; and between the three constructs of relational wellbeing. Old ties were not forgotten; instead, they evolved to a different form, supporting young refugees from a distance, while new ties contributed to what is needed in their present and at their current age. Experiences of relational wellbeing transcended time and space between their disrupted places of origin, their experiences on the journey, and settling in their new countries. The constructs of relational wellbeing—feeling good, being connected, and having enough—were inseparable in the participants’ experiences. Conclusions: We conclude that these overlaps have implications for a relational wellbeing approach in theory and practice. The results leave a challenge for both researchers and practitioners to develop complex research and intervention methods that can capture these tapestries of young refugees’ experiences of relational wellbeing.