Regeneration of Amman Center - Social Acceptance of Syrian Migrants in Downtown Amman

Majd Al-Homoud, Hala Ghanem

Several studies discussed attitudes towards migrants; some of the issues pointed out are integration that requires interaction between migrants and the host society.  Homogenous social groupings produce stronger communities.  As the conflict in Syria entered its fifth year, Jordan hosted about 1.4 million registered Syrians, of whom 646,700 are informal refugees.  Eighty-five percent of the refugees live outside camps in some of the poorest areas of Jordan.  Consequently, new household’s typologies pressured the supply side.  Such non-camp refugees’ migration patterns and housing market conditions formed ethnic homogeneous enclaves in different locations in Amman.  Accordingly, non-camp refugees occupied and rented the upper floors of mixed used commercial buildings in downtown Amman.

The present study investigated social acceptance of Syrian migrants residing in upper floors of commercial mixed used buildings located in the city center of Amman.  The primary purpose of this research is to study how social acceptance of Syrian migrants is influenced by social gating.  The hypothesis of the present study states that social acceptance of Syrian migrants in downtown Amman is influenced by sense of merchants’ sense of social gating.  The significance of the study stems from that the development of downtown Amman with such rich social context can be informative and useful for strategic planners, local governments, NGO’s, social workers, and psychologists.  This paper offers such an opportunity to reflect on an unfolding crisis that is of major social concern with changing urban demographics.

The study was conducted using a quantitative and qualitative research strategy; an embedded research design was used.  The quantitative method was conducted using a survey with downtown merchants, in addition to supportive qualitative methods of face-to-face interviews.  The study was conducted in the central part of Amman, known locally as Wast Al-balad, which is considered the old commercial area that dates back to the second quarter of the twentieth century.  Some of these secondary residential units became spaces (enclaves) for migrants that formed ethnic low-income enclaves.  In the last five years, low-income Syrian migrants started to rent these units in Amman’s urban center.  Outcomes indicated that social cohesion is the strongest motivator for acceptance of outsiders by the local merchants to reside in the upper floors of the commercial buildings of Downtown Amman area.
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