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Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children: Whose perspective?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2012 (English)In: Childhood, ISSN 0907-5682, E-ISSN 1461-7013, Vol. 19, no 4, 495-507 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent years have seen increasing attention being paid to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. This article provides an overview of research in the field and its implications for an understanding of these children as a particularly vulnerable category. The existing research focuses primarily on investigating the children’s emotional well-being from psychiatric and medical perspectives. Moreover, in these studies such emotional problems tend to be linked to previous and current traumatic experiences, in particular separation from their parents. By contrast, this article suggests that a critical need exists for research on unaccompanied children’s life situations based upon exploration of their own perspectives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2012. Vol. 19, no 4, 495-507 p.
Keyword [en]
Agency, emotional health, migration, unaccompanied children, vulnerability
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-186791DOI: 10.1177/0907568211429625ISI: 000311478300007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-186791DiVA: diva2:572988
Available from: 2012-11-30 Created: 2012-11-29 Last updated: 2014-04-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Conditional Belonging: Listening to Unaccompanied Young Refugees’ Voices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conditional Belonging: Listening to Unaccompanied Young Refugees’ Voices
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores negotiations of belonging among unaccompanied young refugees in Sweden. The thesis further aims to shed light on methodological aspects of bringing out their voices. The analysis draws on postcolonial and poststructuralist approaches to belonging and relates belonging to the concepts of home, place, racialization and notions of “Swedishness”.

The thesis analyses qualitative interviews with 17 young people, who arrived in Sweden as unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors and have been granted permanent residency. The interviews are complemented with walk-alongs and photography-based interviews.

Paper 1 gives an overview and discussion of research on unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors. I argue that there is a lack of their voices in the research, and that their own agency and perspectives are not addressed due to a focus on vulnerability and emotional health (or lack thereof). Paper II, which is delimited to participants in a rural village, shows that they negotiate belonging and a sense of home related to places but that othering is constraining. In paper II and III I suggest that the participants’ belongings and position in Sweden can be understood as conditional due to othering and racialization. In paper III, I argue that expressing gratitude can be understood as a form of impression management and, thus be a strategy to negotiate their position in the interview setting as in the host country.

I finally argue that in order to understand the participants’ negotiations of belonging attention has to be paid to their agency as well as the conditioning of belonging in discourses and in interactions on the local level.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2014. 92 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 93
unaccompanied refugee minors, belonging, home, place, racialization, negotiation, gratitude, young age, qualitative methods, sociological listening
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-216417 (URN)978-91-554-8859-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-03-07, Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-02-13 Created: 2014-01-21 Last updated: 2014-04-29

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