Guide Asylum Seekers, Social Work and Racism

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Such additional variables include differential immigration statuses and their concomitant entitlements and restrictions of rights, divergent labour market experiences, discrete gender and age profiles, patterns of spatial distribution, and mixed local area responses by service providers and residents. Indeed, she suggests similarities between black oppression, the popular imagining of Welsh oppression by the English, and that the tolerance thesis has focused too greatly on English migration at the expense of exploring its relevance for racialized minorities.

Academic research into the settlement experiences of ethnic minorities in Wales is limited, although research in this area has increased since the dispersal of asylum seekers to Wales began in Threadgold et al. In the present paper, I begin by outlining the methods used in this study. I then proceed to explore how refugees and asylum seekers talk about discrimination and racism that they report to have experienced whilst living in Wales.

I examine the functions of this talk and consider the implications of these within the wider context of refugee and asylum seeker integration in a changing Wales. The data analysed in this study come from 19 individual semistructured interviews conducted with refugees and asylum seekers who were living in Wales at the time of the interview. Participants were invited to take part in the interviews to discuss their experiences of integration and living in Wales. They were recruited from refugee and asylum seeker support organisations in Cardiff and Swansea. A total of 11 male and 8 female participants took part in this study who ranged in age from 19 to 58, with an average age of Four of the participants were asylum seekers who had made an initial application for protection to the U.

Government, seven were asylum seekers whose case had been refused by the U. Those with refugee status had chosen to remain in Wales following their grant of status.

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All participants were informed that the interviews would be conducted in English and that they needed to have sufficient English speaking and listening skills in order to discuss their experiences of living in Wales. All interviews were conducted in English except for one that was conducted partly with the aid of a translator.

Each of the interviews were initially coded using NVivo in order to identify sections in which prejudice or racism was raised by either the participants or the researcher.

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This resulted in eight extracts, where prejudice or racism was reported by the interviewee, being selected for further detailed analysis. Therefore, 11 of the participants did not report experiencing prejudice or racism in the interview. In this analysis, I have adopted a discursive psychological approach, which treats language as a form of social action. McKinlay and McVittie suggest that discursive psychology emerged in order to provide a more naturalistic and functional approach to the topics classically studied within social psychology.


Discursive psychologists, such as Wetherell and Potter , criticised the dominant, cognitive, approach within social psychology, arguing that such approaches could not account for the variation they had found in their interview participants' talk. As a result, discursive psychology is concerned with people's practices, in particular what they are doing with their discourses in terms of argument, communication, and interaction in specific, situated, settings. In this way, discursive psychology can be distinguished from forms of discourse analysis in other fields such as in linguistics , which analyse the grammatical and stylistic organisation of discourses, by placing greater emphasis on language use and what is achieved by that use.

Analysis of the eight selected extracts revealed that three participants constructed accounts that made the incident they described appear trivial. In both cases, I demonstrate how the construction of such accounts may be dilemmatic for the participants, which is contingent on their precarious status. Previous discursive research with asylum seekers and refugees in the United Kingdom Goodman et al. Jucker suggests that use of well as a marker of insufficiency is a device used by respondents who know that they are not giving the information requested by the questioner.

This explanation for use of the marker well appears to be borne out by Amna's subsequent talk in Lines 4 to 7 in which she constructs herself as a positive person. This strategy of constructing herself as a positive person also highlights a reluctance on her part to make an accusation of discrimination.

Indeed, it is not until Lines 7 to 8 that a suggestion of discrimination is raised. In doing so, it makes the incident appear trivial by claiming that it is something we would expect from people who are young. Such a strategy is employed here and allows Amna to put an explanation into play without attributing blame and avoids the negative consequences associated with making claims of discrimination Kirkwood et al. However, in Lines 15 to 18, the parents of the teenagers are constructed as being responsible for the incident because they were present at the time.

This portrays Amna as having an issue with the mother, and her parenting, rather than with the teenagers, and their racism. Again, this provides further justification for the event being a form of everyday racism, which is to be expected from children, if their parents do not teach them what is right and wrong in society. In both of the extracts discussed thus far, I have demonstrated that, in line with previous work Goodman et al. In Line 3, Kris states that he has not experienced any discrimination whilst living in Wales, which he repeats again in Line 5.

Use of this hedging device may indicate that racism and discrimination are to be expected in Wales and that Kris may be experiencing a dilemma in discussing such issues. Indeed, as the extract continues, we see this dilemma playing out further. This ambiguity could suggest that nobody has been racist or that they may indeed have been influenced by prejudice. This again suggests that everyday racism could be at play here, albeit not in the forms discussed in the previous extracts.

Such a strategy allows Mustafa to put the suggestion of racism occurring in Wales into play but avoids making direct accusations of racism. However, Sam's subsequent response suggests that it is not a shared understanding because he asks for further explanation rather than agreeing with Mustafa's previous question. Mustafa's final turn is marked by a number of hesitations and repetitions that suggest he may be uncomfortable accounting for his previous turn. In the next section of this paper, I discuss the implications of this further within the context of refugee and asylum seeker integration in Wales.

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In this paper, I have taken a discursive psychological approach to study how accounts of discrimination and racism are constructed by forced migrants living in Wales. The analysis has identified two ways in which the asylum seekers and refugees in this study constructed accounts of discrimination, which they report to have experienced whilst living in Wales. These will now be discussed in relation to forced migrants' integration in Wales and the claims that the increasingly superdiverse nature of Wales challenges the tolerance thesis.

Analysis of the extracts presented in this paper has shown that participants either constructed the reported incidents of discrimination as trivial or constructed accounts where banal everyday encounters gave them the feeling that they may have experienced racism in Wales. There is evidence in the extracts that such complaints share features with other forms of talk where complaints are raised reluctantly or only through necessity Edwards, It is suggested that such strategies also allow the speaker to avoid complaining about the society and appearing ungrateful for the protection which they have received, in line with the findings of Goodman et al.

Although Kris and Mustafa also constructed discrimination as being trivial to some extent, their strategy of questioning the basis of the discrimination again allows the explanation of racism to be put in play but also avoids some of the difficulties that can follow from making direct accusations of racism. Flam and Beauzamy draw on Billig's argument relating to banal forms of everyday nationalism to develop an account of how migrants are confronted by different forms of rejection in their everyday encounters with natives.

Both Kris and Mustafa constructed accounts that support the idea of everyday racism, a sense of feeling discrimination in everyday encounters that are not explicit as those discussed in the specific examples by Amna and Munir. His status might lead us to hypothesise that his reluctance to make accusations of racism may be as much to do with the asylum system itself as it is to do with an unwillingness to criticise the host society. Similarly, Sales is critical of the U. Experiencing a system where you are not believed may therefore explain reluctance to make direct accusations of discrimination, which may both seem critical of the host country and potentially undermine the reasons why someone is seeking protection.

Indeed, Goodman et al. The current study has shown a number of ways in which discrimination is experienced by asylum seekers and refugees living in Wales and supports the findings of Threadgold et al.

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Indeed, the analysis of the extracts in the current study suggests that Williams may indeed be correct to challenge the tolerance thesis in light of the growing superdiversity experienced in Wales and that the more banal forms of everyday racism described by Kris and Mustafa also need to be considered. This research also highlights problems for future research with asylum seekers and refugees in Wales and the extent to which their experience of the asylum system may, or may not, lead them to downplay potentially discriminatory experiences they have had.

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In this paper, I have also shown the importance of the ways in which questions are constructed by the researcher in an interview context. Although I noted a general reluctance to make accusations of discrimination in the extracts analysed in this paper and have suggested that this may be due to not wanting to evaluate the host society negatively, there may be other considerations that are worthy of discussion. First, the researcher who undertook each of the interviews was a white British male and therefore the accounts offered by participants may have been constructed with an awareness of this.

It may therefore be a case of downplaying racism in order to positively evaluate the society, of which the researcher is a member. Similarly, it would be remiss not to consider the context of the asylum system in relation to the lives of participants, whether they are still a part of that system or have recently been part of it. Indeed, for many of the participants in this study, the process of being interviewed may have been their first in the United Kingdom since their asylum interview. This research has focused on the ways that refugees and asylum seekers in Wales construct accounts of their experiences of racism that they have faced within a research interview situation.

The examples presented show a reluctance to make accusations of racism or discrimination. When incidents are reported, they are frequently constructed as trivial, downplayed, or explained through reference to some part of their own identity that avoids making criticisms of their host society and avoids risking their status as a person in need of protection. However, they also demonstrate that although some participants constructed accounts of explicitly racist incidents, others focused more upon more everyday and banal forms of racism that they have had to negotiate whilst living in Wales.

Parker S. J Community Appl Soc Psychol. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Mar 9. Samuel Parker 1. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Samuel Parker, Email: ku. Corresponding author. Email: ku. Abstract Wales has a long history of migration; however, the introduction of dispersed asylum seekers in has led to Wales becoming a more superdiverse nation. Keywords: asylum seekers, discourse analysis, discursive psychology, integration, racism, refugees, W ales. Data The data analysed in this study come from 19 individual semistructured interviews conducted with refugees and asylum seekers who were living in Wales at the time of the interview.

Analytic approach In this analysis, I have adopted a discursive psychological approach, which treats language as a form of social action. Institutionalised Islamophobia and the 'Prevent' agenda: 'winning hearts and minds' or welfare as surveillance and control? Twenty-first century eugenics? By Sheila Furness and Philip Gilligan.

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Description Reviews Author Contents Without a doubt, structural and institutionalised racism is still present in Britain and Europe, a factor that social work education and training has been slow to acknowledge. Iain Ferguson, Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, University of the West of Scotland "This book, which is currently needed more than ever, offers a valuable new generation of critical thinking about race, racism and social work. Related Titles. Black issues in social work and social care By Mekada J. Graham Find out more.