‘Now I am hopeless’: exploring the lived experiences of people refused asylum

TAYLOR, Lucy (2021). ‘Now I am hopeless’: exploring the lived experiences of people refused asylum. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00421


Evidence from NGOs and the charitable sector suggests that people who are refused asylum in the UK lead highly marginalised lives, experiencing levels of deprivation that flout UK and international human rights legislation. However, the number of studies engaging with this largely hidden population is small, with little attention paid to understanding how this marginalisation is engendered, perpetuated and experienced. This thesis addresses this gap by engaging with social theory to understand empirical research findings. Research was carried out with fifteen destitute refused asylum seekers in Sheffield using a qualitative methodology comprising in-depth interviews and participant-led auto-photography and photo-elicitation. This thesis makes three main contributions to knowledge. Firstly, it expands empirical understanding of the lived experience of being a refused asylum seeker in the UK. In line with previous studies, participants experienced extreme material and social marginalisation. This impacted on their health, wellbeing and social relationships. Secondly, the thesis develops an analytical framework of theoretical concepts to engage with the empirical data that might prove useful to other scholars seeking to understand marginalised groups. Thirdly, novel theoretical insights are generated in relation to the data. Elias and Scotson’s (1994 [1965]) theory of established-outsider relations is utilised to explain how power disparities between the established UK ‘group’ and refused asylum seekers underpin participants’ marginalisation. Other concepts, including Wacquant’s urban marginality (2008), situate the findings in the context of the modern city. Additional analytical lenses, such as Goffman’s (1963) work on stigma, provide nuanced insights into participants’ day-to-day lived realities, and the way that stigma seemingly perpetuates segregation. The research finds that participants frequently experience their marginalisation as a form of imprisonment, and Foucault’s concepts of governmentality and the carceral archipelago help to further understand this, providing new perspectives on what it feels like to be a refused asylum seeker in the UK today.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Reeve, Kesia [0000-0003-2877-887X]
Thesis advisor - Robinson, David
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Kesia Reeve / Supervisor: Prof. David Robinson
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00421
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 24 Dec 2021 11:23
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:05
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/29488

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