Can I come as I am? Refugees’ vocational identity threats, coping, and growth.

By: Mari Kira, Katja Wehrle, Ute-Christine Klehe, Jelena Zikic


Trying to re-establish their lives in a host country, refugees face multiple integration barriers in relation to work and society. This study, derived from 31 semi-structured interviews with refugees residing in Germany, explores how these barriers also threaten refugees’ fundamental identity needs for worth, distinctiveness, continuity, and control. Faced with such threats, refugees tried both to protect their previous identities and/or to restructure them to adjust to their new situation.

Findings also highlight identity threat jujitsu to both support refugees’ identity protection and create better connections between themselves and their environments. Further, we point to resourcing as a form of buffering potential future hardships. Finally, both refugees’ resourcing and coping with adversity were related to the potential for psychological growth. This study offers new insights into how transition experiences impact refugees’ personal and career-related growth in the new country.