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Francesca Speed

Francesca's subject area is Leadership, Work and Organisation. Francesca's PhD project title is 'Situating the working lives of migrants and refugees: the case of Syrians in North East England'. Read more about Francesca's research.

Project title

Situating the working lives of migrants and refugees: the case of Syrians in North East England.  


  • Dr Tracy Scurry
  • Dr Peter Edward
  • Dr Mona Moufahim (University of Stirling)




Project description

This thesis examines the working lives of Syrians in the UK. More specifically, it looks at Syrians from diverse backgrounds including varied immigration and asylum experiences and statuses. To address some of the difficulties of identity and intersectionality approaches commonly used to study the working lives of migrants and refugees, this study employs a translocational positionality frame to provide an in-depth and more nuanced understanding of participants’ experiences engaging in different forms of work in the UK. An interpretative research paradigm using life-story interviews has been employed. An immersive research design allowed for the collection of rich data including thirty-one in-depth semi-structured interviews with first generation Syrian men and women in North East England.

This thesis brings together key debates in belonging, refugee employment and migration studies to show that situating working lives provides a useful framework for understanding the multiplicity of migrant and refugee realities and the contextual factors shaping working lives. This study thus develops a more nuanced understanding of belonging to specifically include the meaning and attachments attributed to and generated from diverse roles and responsibilities that make up refugees’ working lives. Findings highlight the importance of understanding the strategies of belonging developed by Syrians including strategies of seeking, partaking in and/or creating meaningful work which shape wider processes of belonging in participants’ working lives. This study further illustrates the significance of a processual and translocational understanding of belonging to comprehend better the contextual and temporal effects shaping refugees’ and migrants’ social locations in the UK and the strategies of belonging adopted that affect levels and modes of engagement across individuals’ working lives. By developing a nuanced understanding of variations in and across working lives in a population that is often considered to be homogenous, this thesis has important policy and theoretical implications for other migrant and refugee populations.

Publications during PhD

Speed, F. and Kulichyova, A. (2021) The Role of Refugee Talent Intermediaries in Developing Refugee Talent Pools. Journal of Organizational Effectiveness People and Performance, 8(4), pp. 407-426.

Speed, F., Scurry, T., Edward, P. and Moufahim, M. (2021) Networks amongst Syrians: Situated Migrant Positionalities and the Impact on Relational Embedding. Social Inclusion, 9(4), pp. 243-253.

Research grants

Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership Scholarship.