Prisma Ukraïna

Natalia Zaitseva-Chipak

The Migration Strategies of Ukrainians

Previous Fellowships: 2022/ 2023

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 Ph.D. 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 has been a non-resident Prisma Ukraïna fellow and member of the War, Migration, Memory research group. She is a 2024-25 fellow of the Gerda Henkel Foundation at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin.



The Migration Strategies of Ukrainians

Russia's war against Ukraine has triggered a surge of forced displacement in Ukraine. A significant portion, approximately 5 million individuals from both frontline and rear areas, has chosen to migrate to EU territory, while around 8 million have become internally displaced persons. In this context, understanding the factors shaping the intentions of these displaced Ukrainians and uncovering their adaptation strategies in new locales, whether within Ukraine or Europe, becomes pivotal for formulating policies that benefit both the displaced and host communities.

Through her involvement in the War, Migration, Memory research group, Natalia Zaitseva-Chipak has scrutinized the migration patterns of Ukrainians forcibly displaced to Germany. Her ongoing research encompassed motivations driving migration from Ukraine to Germany and plans for potential repatriation. Partial insights into migration plans and adaptation nuances of internally displaced individuals within Ukraine were also collected. Her forthcoming study involves augmenting this dataset with plans and strategies of returnees from Europe to Ukraine, as well as those who remain in their communities. The subsequent phase aims to undertake a comparative analysis across these four distinct groups.

The researcher's objectives encompass three primary aspects. Firstly, she seeks to delve into the migration strategies of various Ukrainian groups: forcibly displaced individuals, those returning from Europe to settle permanently in Ukraine, and the populace residing in regions with minimal impact from intense combat during the war. Secondly, she aims to discern adaptation algorithms and plans utilized by forcibly displaced persons and refugees in their new locales. Lastly, she intends to undertake a comparative assessment of migration strategies between forcibly displaced persons to Europe, returnees from Europe opting for permanent residence, other forcibly displaced individuals, and the population that has maintained their original residence since the onset of the conflict.


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.