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Social relationships and t rust in asylum seeking families in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Ulla Björnberg
Published in Sociological Reseaarch On Line
Volume 16
Issue 1
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Keywords asylumseeking children, trust, resilience, emotional capital
Subject categories Sociology


This paper is dedicated to analysing the social integration of asylum-seekers and how they cope with adversity during their wait for a permit of stay. Coping is linked to the period of transition, which is understood as the full process of leaving the home country, reception and application for asylum, and appeal for new trials after negative outcomes. Some asylum seekers do not leave the country after negative decisions but hide for a period and make a new application later. In reality it could mean that they remain as asylum seekers in the host country for years.The period of transition includes having left behind important resources such as kin, friends and social networks that form social and emotional capital for everyday life. In addition, they leave behind assets and other material things, cultural capital, skills and know-how needed to advance in the community. Transition means moving to a new set of conditions of low predictability and high uncertainty. The transitional process can be described as a social state or phase characterised by great ambiguity, in which one’s position, identity and social belonging are no longer clearly defined. These feelings were evoked already in one’s homeland, when the decision to emigrate was taken and preparations were started. The transitional process is marked by experiences of social exclusion in the homeland, involving physical and psychological violence as well as substantial reduction of civil and economic rights. The tension between experiences of exclusion and expectations of improvement in the situation after migration constitutes a framework for how strategies of dealing with one’s life must be studied. Studies of the transitional process show that local institutional contexts in the host country have a decisive importance for the individuals’ well-being. This is related partly to what resources the individuals have at their disposal, with which they can guide and control their life situation – in short, to the individuals’ scope for agency and voice. Regulations and their implementations in the asylum process influence the welfare conditions and the well-being of the family (Ascher 2005).

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