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Kinda Tabbaa-Snyder

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Does Involvement in Participatory Design of Public Places Assist in Overcoming Acculturation Stress?

Acculturation stress refers to the difficulties, stress and deterioration in mental health of new migrants trying to understand and adapt to a new culture. Most of the migrants face acculturation stress in a new place and overcome it after a few years.However, in some cases acculturation stress persists beyond these initial years of arrival and presents difficulties for the migrant to integrate. In some studies, such difficulties in integration are argued to be related to disruption as regards the place, and if migrants’ country of origin and new country differ significantly in terms of culture and landscape it increase their challenges during integration. Some studies have considered the effects of involving in participatory process on community building and wellbeing of people in disadvantaged areas, and, in particular, the wellbeing of the elderly, young citizens and Aboriginal population. Despite this well-documented importance of participatory process, in reality, engaging the public has more often been reduced to merely informing them about a change without facilitating their genuine participation. However, the participatory process is progressing, and engaging the public has become a greater priority in transformative contemporary governance. Nevertheless, despite all the progress in participatory design, migrants are rarely considered in the decision-making related to planning open spaces. The few studies that have considered the role of participatory processes in migrants’ cultural integration reveal that their disrupted relationship to place causes migrants to suffer, whereas providing them the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process makes them feel valued, heard and welcome. Therefore, considering the limited research on this topic, the present study attempts to contribute to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the role of participation in influencing migrant relationships with the place. To this end, the study draws on primary research to compare the participatory process during 2017–2019 in two community-based projects, Friends of Pine Gully (FoPG) and Glenthorne National Park (GNP). The mixed used methodology used, will follow ‘the exploratory sequential design’ consists of exploring the results of three participatory cycles of actions. The first two cycles will use qualitative method focusing on the auto-ethnography method in the first cycle, to draw on the researcher’s own experience as a migrant. This cycle will help define the preliminary research questions. The second cycle will use data from open-ended interviews collected from different sources. The aim is to explore whether other migrants’ participation in making a public place is informed by similar motivations, incentives and stresses. It is anticipated this exploration may both confirm some of the preliminary questions and highlight new patterns and themes. The final cycle will conduct questionnaires developed from the interviews. It will attempt to investigate in depth whether the emerging themes and patterns are prevalent in a larger population, for a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of participation on migrant stress reduction. It is hoped that the outcome of these three cycles could create an introductory or a pilot working Framework of recommendations or principles of approach for migrant participation in community-based groups to be used by councils. The aim of this study is to explore whether involvement in participatory design of public places assists migrants in overcoming acculturation stress.