Dense social networks in everyday life are usually associated with local embeddedness. Neighborhoods, friendship circles, schoolmates and colleagues often form a specific social spatiality which provides socioeconomic support, solidarity, trust and identity frames for the networked individual. Space can be regarded one determining aspect of social network evolution, but social networks also make up spaces in the way how frames, identities or stories to 'characterize' spaces are constructed. Migration in its different dimensions changes perceptions of space as well as the network-space relation in general. Previous every-day networks break or are transformed into long-distance networks, network resources may vanish, new social embeddedness needs to be established. One question resulting from these reflections is how migration may alter socioeconomic patterns as well as social identities that are related to the construction of spaces through networks.
In my contribution, I will address this question on socioeconomic agency, networks, migration, and the making of space-related identity focusing the case of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine. Before the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine, in particular these two regions – Crimea and Donbas – deployed a strong regional identity. On a macro-level, this could be observed, inter alia, in the role of oligarchic networks from the Donbas region in Ukrainian politics and economics. On the micro level, however, much less data and information on local or regional identities and resources stemming from local networks is available. Consequently, little is know about the change of personal networks, socioeconomic activities and support and space-related identities of IDPs in Ukraine.
My empirical research tries to figure out the stability, transformation and reformation of everyday-life and support networks of IDPs in Ukraine, and their impact on the perception and construction of space. The case study focuses IDPs from the Donbas and Crimea in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv, as well as Lviv based civil society and humanitarian organizations who support IDPs. First, based on egocentric network analysis, the structure of individual socio-economic support networks of the IDPs and the role of spatial proximity and distance within these networks will be traced. Are local integration of IDPs and their socioeconomic activities based on 'new' or 'old' networks of IDPs? Do 'IDP clusters' in the economic or civil society sphere evolve? Second, an analysis of IDP-related civil society cooperation networks will refer to the question if and how spacial perceptions of 'the Donbas', 'Crimea' and 'Western Ukraine' have changed among members of organizations due to the forced relocation.
In sum, the project tries to figure out the change in networks, the perception of space and the resulting social structure that may enable or hinder IDPs from re-building socioeconomic support networks in their new locations.