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Constructions of credibility in decisions concerning unaccompanied minors
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3157-0279
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, ISSN 1747-9894, E-ISSN 2042-8650, Vol. 13, no 2, 157-172 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the key credibility principles used by Migration Agency case-officers in Sweden. More specifically it analyses how they construct arguments about asylum-seeking unaccompanied minors’ credibility in first-decisions.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is inspired by a social constructionist approach to discourse and explore how case-officers construct legally legitimate arguments about credibility. The qualitative text analysis is focused on discursive practice. The data selected for analysis consists of 827 excerpts containing case-officers’ credibility reasoning deducted from a sample of 916 decisions.

Findings

The main finding is that case-officers question unaccompanied minors by using argumentative techniques in which children appear to be expected to deliver detailed and coherent accounts. In addition, unaccompanied minors’ knowledge-claims can be questioned regardless of decision outcome (rejection or approval). As unaccompanied minors’ claims for asylum appear to be questioned in such an extensive manner, their humanitarian claims also seem to be reduced. The findings of this study suggest that there is a risk that the possibility to be understood as a legitimate asylum seeker, worthy of residency, can be restricted for unaccompanied minors.

Practical implications

The findings indicate that when case-officers base their understanding of credibility on unaccompanied children’s individual life experiences they make use of a limited repertoire of arguments.

Originality/value

This study contributes to insights about how case-officers fulfil legal expectations when assessing unaccompanied minors’ credibility. The findings can be of interest to both legal and social science as well policy planners and immigration practitioners.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 13, no 2, 157-172 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, Credibility, Unaccompanied minors, Asylum seekers, Evidence assessment
National Category
Law and Society Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127102DOI: 10.1108/IJMHSC-02-2016-0010ISI: 000404790800002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-127102DiVA: diva2:906486
Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-02-24 Last updated: 2017-07-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Drawing the limits: Unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy and procedure
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Drawing the limits: Unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy and procedure
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of the thesis is to explore legislators’ perceptions of unaccompanied children in the development of migration law, and how case-officers transform the policy in arguments for and against residency in asylum-cases.

More specifically, this thesis explores how Swedish legislators experienced parliamentary work when putting in place the 2005 Aliens Act and the new system for appeals and procedures. In addition, it explores legislators understanding of the concept of unaccompanied minors, and how the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) case-officers understand unaccompanied minors’ credibility. It draws on interview data with 15 legislators of the Swedish parliament and an analysis of 916 decisions in asylum cases concerning unaccompanied minors. The thesis is theoretically informed by interpretative phenomenology and social constructionism. The method used builds on detailed coding procedures in qualitative social research as they are applied in interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), thematic analysis and text analysis.

Study 1 examines the experiences of 15 legislators when negotiating migration reform in parliament. The findings indicate that the preceding political negotiations can be one of the reasons for unclear aims when politicians’ propose new legislation. In addition, it seems that other policy areas, such as fiscal considerations and state-municipality relations, took precedence in the negotiations when the legislators were attempting to make sense of their experiences in discussing asylum policy.

Study 2 explores legislators’ perceptions of unaccompanied minors arriving in Sweden. The findings show that chronological age is a key reference point concerning how legislators understand unaccompanied minors’ claims for asylum and other needs. In addition, the findings suggest that legislators perceive unaccompanied minors as an ambivalent category and that this understanding is influenced by deep-rooted welfare ideology. Furthermore, the findings indicate that legislators develop policy concerning unaccompanied children without considering that they need to be recognised as individuals with different backgrounds, agendas and needs.

Study 3 scrutinises how SMA case-officers construct unaccompanied minors credibility in asylum decisions. It shows that case-officers use similar techniques both when approving and rejecting decisions. These techniques consistently question the competence and political agency of the chid in such a way that the element of individual assessment in asylum procedure can become severely restricted.

In brief, this thesis identifies that the connection between migration and child policy is complex as legislators appear to struggle with “drawing the limits” of who to include or exclude in policy aims. Hence, the juridical field was seen as the answer to improve legitimation. This also means that the concept of asylum has become de-politicised. In addition, case-officers also seem to use a limited repertoire of arguments when drawing the limits for unaccompanied minors’ credibility in asylum decisions. This thesis points to possible dilemmas in asylum policy and procedure concerning unaccompanied minors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Child and Youth Studies. Stockholm University, 2016. 115 p.
Keyword
unaccompanied minors, separated minors, refugees, asylum policy, child policy, legislators, migration reform, legislative intent, juridification, perceptions, adolescent, age assessment, immigration agency, credibility, evidence assessment
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127091 (URN)978-91-7649-335-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-15, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Accepted. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-03-21 Created: 2016-02-24 Last updated: 2017-02-17Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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