FEATURE30 September 2021

How to measure a challenged sense of belonging

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Feeling included and having a sense of belonging can be hard to explain. A new paper outlines how to track when people feel that they don’t belong. By Katie McQuater.

Coloured rope tied in a circular knot

For some people, a sense of belonging might be a feeling of safety and comfort. For others, it could be the feeling you get when a local shopkeeper knows your name. Belonging might be something that is only missed when it is no longer there.

Feeling that you belong may be a vague concept, but it is an important one – an essential element of the fabric of society and for our wellbeing.

When there is a challenge to that sense of cohesion – when people feel that they don’t belong – this could offer important insights on how people relate to the world around them and whether they feel socially connected to it.

A recent study from a group of Berlin-based researchers focused on developing a scale to measure a challenged sense of belonging, working with refugees and asylum seekers in Germany.

“Questions related to sense of belonging – and, in particular, challenged sense of belonging – are implicitly central to discourses about the fragmentation and ...