Prisma Ukraïna
2022/ 2023

Natalia Zaitseva-Chipak

Ukrainians Displaced: The Fluidity of Roles

Natalia Zaitseva-Chipak is a sociologist and a professor in the Department of Sociology at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Prior to this position, she was a professor in the Department of Sociology at the Lviv Ivan Franko National University. In 2002, she graduated from the Lviv Ivan Franko National University, and in 2007, she completed her PhD at the Classic Private University. Since 2007, she has also worked as an analyst at the Socioinform Ukrainian Center for Public Opinion Research. She has either participated in or managed more than 20 sociological studies of Ukrainian society. Her scientific interests focus on problems of modern Ukrainian society and individual social groups, such as youths or internally displaced persons (IDPs). Natalia Zaitseva-Chipak is a 2022/2023 non-resident Prisma Ukraïna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

Ukrainians Displaced: The Fluidity of Roles

The full-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine that began in February 2022 caused a new, large-scale wave of forced relocation in the country. The Ukrainian state, among other things, is now facing the enormous loss of human resources. If those who fled do not return, this might accelerate the future demographic crisis in Ukraine. Meanwhile, EU countries are confronted with the biggest European displacement since the Second World War. The social support systems of many countries are unprepared to accept and adapt to millions of Ukrainians arriving today and likely in the months to come.

Official reports list established groups (IDPs or refugees), but previous research shows that these are rarely stable categories. The same person can move throughout a country (either registered as an IDP or not). They can also live part of the time as an IDP and part of the time as a displaced person abroad. Within the same family, individual members can have very different statuses (e.g., refugee, IDP, or citizen). Quantitative surveys used by most international monitoring organizations do not provide insight into the fluidity of roles and multi-vector relocation and survival strategies. Moreover, how displaced persons narrate their sense of belonging in such fluid situations, and what factors or markers influence its configuration, are rarely discussed and explored. For this reason, I plan to employ the qualitative methodology of in-depth interviews that allow me to build trust relationships with interlocutors and thoroughly study their fluid strategies of dislocation, self-description, and adaptation, all of which often remain invisible in quantitative research.