Mitigating developmental crises for migrants from South Africa: The role and significance of “a sense of belonging”

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Annemarie Klingenberg, MSocSci, GradDipCouns, AssDegCouns, BLC, LLB, CCAA (clinical), PACFA (reg), ACA (member and registered supervisor). Clinical Counsellor, Relationships Educator, Adelaide, Australia; Johannes Luetz, PhD, MBA, BA. Senior Lecturer, Postgraduate Coordinator & Research Chair, CHC Higher Education, Brisbane, Australia; Ann Crawford, PhD, MCouns, GradDipMin, GradCertHigherEd, BA (Couns), CCAA (clinical), PACFA (reg). Retired Lecturer & Coordinator, CHC Counselling and Support Centre, Brisbane, Australia



Globalisation has increased human migration, spawning issues of identity, integration and wellbeing (Wampole, 2016; Hsu, 2011; Elliot, 2011; Bauman, 1996). Reaching beyond the traditional perspective that conceives of persons primarily as individuals, this research offers insights into impacts on migrants’ relational and social identities by specifically focusing on “sense of belonging” as a key area of interest. It also extends traditional acculturation models by applying transnationalism to migrants’ lived experience of “dual belonging”. Based on qualitative approaches, this research uses grounded theory set in social constructionism, and involved participants who were South African migrants residing in Adelaide, Australia. Response analysis revealed core themes of belonging in South Africa and Australia, factors affecting belonging, and loss or weakened belonging over time. Findings highlight “a sense of belonging” as a key success factor for the nurture of social identity, and practical strategies for migrants and mental health professionals are suggested that have the potential to help mitigate the loss of a sense of belonging, strengthen migrant resilience, underpin their agency and resourcefulness, and provide hope.


Keywords: Migration, belonging, identity, South Africa, Australia, counselling, transnational, policy


Address for correspondence:
Annemarie Klingenberg