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Utan given hemvist: Barnperspektiv i den svenska asylprocessen
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
In Search of a Home : Children in the Swedish Asylum-Seeking Process (English)
Abstract [en]

The thesis examines accompanied asylum-seeking children’s position in Swedish asylum reception management and in the determination of their claims. The three articles of the thesis focus on children’s own experiences of seeking asylum, on the experiences and practices of the civil servants at the Migration Board, as well as those of the legal representatives that assist asylum-seekers in the application process. The thesis builds on ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2008 and 2010 in southwest Sweden. Theoretical inspiration has been sought in the new sociology of childhood as well as in practice theory.

The first article in the thesis concerns children’s caseworkers who are responsible for safeguarding children’s interests in the Migration Board’s daily work with reception. The study highlights a range of dilemmas caseworkers have to deal with in their role as frontline bureaucrats. The study shows that the children’s caseworkers often perceive their discretion as limited, but also that they themselves contribute to limiting it, for example due to their hesitation in challenging existing norms and collegiality.   

The second article examines the ways in which legal representatives, who act on behalf of families in asylum determinations, in their practice perceive and relate to the concept of children’s best interests and children’s right to participate. The study shows that children in families can become invisible in the legal representatives’ daily rounds. This invisibility is due to practical limitations in the representatives’ work as well as a general view that children rarely have their own grounds for asylum, as separate claimants to their parents.

The third paper of the thesis explores the ways in which children experience and seek to influence circumstances that signify their time spent as asylum-seekers. The study shows how the children developed a range of tactics to deal with their particular situations, which varied with their housing and schooling, and the family’s financial resources. The conclusion is that the children themselves are the primary representatives of the child perspective in the asylum-seeking process, not least through their struggle to belong and create a life like that of ’ordinary’ children. 

In line with previous research in the field, the thesis points to the contradiction between the principle of regulated migration and the child perspective in the asylum-seeking process. Together with practical circumstances, such as lack of resources, this contradiction results in a more limited implementation of the child perspective than rules and regulations actually stipulate. Finally, the thesis points to the active role asylum-seeking children take in their efforts to create an everyday life that is as similar as possible to that of  the ’ordinary’ children (e.g. non asylum-seeker and permanently settled children) around them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga institutionen, Stockholms universitet , 2016. , 100 p.
Keyword [en]
agency, asylum, asylum-seeking, child perspective, children, children's perspectives, discretion, legal aid, liminality, participation, personal projects, place, representation, street-level bureaucracy, tactics
Keyword [sv]
Agens, asyl, asylsökande, barn, barnperspektiv, barns perspektiv, deltagande, frontlinjebyråkrati, handlingsutrymme, juridiska ombud, personliga projekt, plats, representation, taktiker
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126291ISBN: 978-91-7649-334-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-126291DiVA: diva2:898728
Public defence
2016-03-18, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted.

Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-01-29 Last updated: 2017-02-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Assertions and aspirations: agency among accompanied asylum-seeking children in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assertions and aspirations: agency among accompanied asylum-seeking children in Sweden
2017 (English)In: Children's Geographies, ISSN 1473-3285, E-ISSN 1473-3277, Vol. 15, no 4, 426-438 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research on asylum-seeking children tends to disregard those in parental care. In particular, little is known about children’s own perspectives. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Sweden, this article explores the ways in which accompanied children experience and seek to overcome challenges posed by asylum reception. The focus is on children’s ambition and ability to form their everyday life, given their ambiguous position of tentative emplacement. Theoretical inspiration is sought in Ortner’s ‘agency of personal projects’ and de Certeau’s concept of ‘tactics’, analysed through the prism of liminality. The study found that while some tactics aimed at avoiding situations and settings that made children uncomfortable, others involved influencing their situation through pursuing ‘personal projects’. Many children’s strivings were directed at creating ‘a normal life’ and a place for themselves in Swedish society. The findings challenge the idea that accompanied children are more protected from difficulties and responsibilities than those seeking asylum alone.

Keyword
Agency, asylum-seeking, children, liminality, personal projects, tactics
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126290 (URN)10.1080/14733285.2016.1271941 (DOI)000400400500004 ()
Available from: 2016-01-29 Created: 2016-01-29 Last updated: 2017-05-29Bibliographically approved
2. Safeguarding a Child Perspective in Asylum Reception: Dilemmas of Children's Case Workers in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Safeguarding a Child Perspective in Asylum Reception: Dilemmas of Children's Case Workers in Sweden
2013 (English)In: The Journal of Refugee Studies, ISSN 0951-6328, E-ISSN 1471-6925, Vol. 26, no 2, 247-264 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the perceptions and practices of Children’s Case Workers (CCW), employed at the Swedish Migration Board to safeguard children’s interests within the Swedish asylum reception system. The extensive discretionary powers that CCWs enjoy in interpreting and implementing policies are of particular significance. This qualitative study highlights the challenges experienced by CCWs at a regional branch, in their position at the intersection between conflicting policy objectives, and given the contradictions inherent in their professional role as street-level bureaucrats. It outlines the strategies employed by CCWs to manage contradiction and ambiguity, such as adapting to organizational pressures and restrictive norms, and exercising restraint in using their discretionary powers, but also finding ways of resisting when the discord between established practice and personal ethics becomes too great. These strategies shape the ways in which policy gets implemented in everyday practice. While a boost to the new image of the Migration Board as an institution promoting human rights, the CCWs find it difficult to implement children’s rights in the proactive ways envisioned. As a result, in CCWs’ experience, rather than being placed at the centre, children tend to be deported to the margins of daily organizational practice.

Keyword
asylum-seeking, children, child perspective, street-level bureaucracy, discretion
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126287 (URN)10.1093/jrs/fes024 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-01-29 Created: 2016-01-29 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
3. ‘People out of place’? Advocates negotiations on children's participation in the Swedish asylum process
Open this publication in new window or tab >>‘People out of place’? Advocates negotiations on children's participation in the Swedish asylum process
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, ISSN 1360-9939, E-ISSN 1464-3707, Vol. 27, no 2, 266-287 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article concerns legal representatives’ negotiations around the principle of children’s best interests and children’s right to participation according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in cases of families applying for asylum in Sweden. Using material from nine interviews with children’s advocates, we analyse their strategies for obtaining narratives from children without putting them in a vulnerable position and examine the tension between migration control and children’s interests. The study shows that children are often assumed to be adequately represented by their parents and that they are perceived as ‘people out of place’ in the asylum process. The right to a customised asylum process, in which children’s needs and perspectives are taken into consideration, tends to be overlooked. Also, the principle of children’s best interests is overshadowed by an ambition to prepare the parents’ claims for asylum in a credible and strategic manner or it may be used as a last resort when all other efforts to get an application granted have been exhausted. In addition, although representatives occasionally develop successful ways of bringing child-specific persecution to the attention of the migration authorities, bureaucratic, and economic barriers constitute a limitation. This ultimately results in the child’s right to seek asylum being overshadowed by the state’s highly technical migration control.

National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126289 (URN)10.1093/lawfam/ebt003 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-01-29 Created: 2016-01-29 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved

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