Friday, January 13, 2006

Refugee v. IDP

I’m no grammar expert but I’m going to take a public stance (thanks J.A.) against re-defining words for jargon in Social Sciences. Adding words is inevitable, but we can’t just take an existing word, use it differently, and then tell everyone else they’re misusing the word. A recent example of re-definition involves the “refugee” versus “internally displaced persons” (IDP) debate. IDP refers to people forced to move from their homes due to political turmoil, but not forced to cross a border. Some will fight to the death arguing that the term “refugee” can only mean those forced to cross a political boundary and thus can be used in opposition to IDP. However, the dictionary definition of refugee does not limit it to people moving across a border; thus I believe IDPs should be viewed as a subset of refugees and those forced to cross a political boundary should get some other name--maybe externally displaced persons.

No comments: