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Ambivalent policies, uncertain identities:asylumeeking families in Sweden

Chapter in book
Authors Ulla Björnberg
Published in Refugee Protection and the Role of Law
Pages 217-234
ISBN 978-0-415-83565-7
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Pages 217-234
Language en
Keywords Key words: asylum seeking families, children’s well-being, emotional capital, refugees, trust
Subject categories Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


Studies about asylum seekers’ experiences show that the local institutional context in the host country is perhaps the most influential factor affecting their well-being. Of crucial importance here are the resources that the individuals have at their disposal to guide and control their life situation, determining, in a word, the scope allowed for their agency and voice. Regulations and their implementation during the asylum process thus greatly influence the welfare conditions and the well-being of the asylum-seeking families (Ascher 2005). Drawing upon a study of the experiences of asylum-seeking children and their families in Sweden, the article examines how parents and children cope with their life situations while awaiting their asylum decisions. The focus of interest is the mutual influence of the policy of recognition and the experience of the identity of parents and children during waiting for permit of stay. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with parents and children. The interviewed families had been waiting for a decision regarding the residence permit for several months and sometimes even years. Utilizing concepts such as resilience, social capital, trust and social recognition, the ways in which social networks might function as important resources fostering the well-being of asylum-seeking children and their parents are assessed. Possibilities for social networking among the interviewed children were found to be often constrained due to their specific social and legal situation in the host country. They were also undermined by their family circumstances and factors related to their past experiences and the challenges inherent in their everyday life during the waiting period.

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