The Digital Leisure Divide and Forcibly Displaced

Payal Arora, Amanda Paz Alencar, Daniela Jaramillo Dent, John Warnes, Erika Perez-Iglesias

Research output: Book/Report/Inaugural speech/Farewell speechReportAcademic

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UNHCR has been pursuing an agenda of enhanced connectivity and digital inclusion for the forcibly displaced. For a number of years, many of the interventions have been tied to specific developmental goals —i.e. enhanced education, use of digital financial services, greater access to information, among others. There is emerging evidence that challenges the notion that those
targeted with such interventions prioritize connectivity for these purposes. Rather, the agenda highlights leisure as a key driver for adoption of digital technologies, and a critical use case for such technologies that bring indirect benefits beyond the ‘virtuous’ aims of humanitarian aid and development programmes globally.
In this workstream report, UNHCR and Erasmus University Rotterdam scholars document the evidence on digital leisure in the forced displacement context, highlighting issues unique to it. Based on this desk review, the main uses and potential benefits of digital leisure in refugee contexts have been outlined. It brings together evidence from research and industry reports at the global level with an emphasis on Brazil as a region of interest for the first phases of this
The report starts by conceptualizing the digital leisure divide as an important aspect of existing digital gaps among forcibly displaced communities. It covers the main infrastructural, cultural, and political limitations that exist for refugees’ connectivity. We emphasize the vast variation in connectivity and specific contextual limitations and opportunities in different locations. Considering this, the proposed digital leisure perspective is presented with a focus on communities and their actual preferences and uses of technologies which overwhelmingly include leisure activities such as:
• one-to-one and group messaging;
• sharing of photos, videos and music;
• accessing social media;
• online gaming;
• consumption of audiovisual content;
• romancing;
• shopping.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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