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Who Counts as an Asylum-Seeker or Refugee?

  • Steve Kirkwood
  • Simon Goodman
  • Chris McVittie
  • Andy McKinlay

Abstract

As demonstrated in Chapter 1, a refugee is defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention as someone who:

owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

This is different from an asylum-seeker: ‘in the UK an asylum-seeker is someone who has asked the Government for refugee status and is waiting to hear the outcome of their application’ (United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 2014). An immigrant is someone who leaves her/his country of birth and moves to another. This means that all refugees and asylum-seekers are immigrants, but not all immigrants are refugees or asylum-seekers. However, ‘immigrant’, ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum-seeker’ will be shown not to be the only terms used in the asylum debate, nor are these official definitions the only way that these terms are used; instead, it will be shown that contributors to the asylum debate argue over these terms in ways that either support or challenge the ways in which asylum-seekers in the UK are treated. The most prominent of these is that of the ‘bogus’ asylum-seeker, who is presented as not really an asylum-seeker at all, but someone interested only in money. In response to this, it can be seen how asylum-seekers, and their supporters, work to focus instead on the reason people have for seeking asylum: safety.

Keywords

Moral Status Illegal Immigrant Refugee Status Asylum Application Refugee Convention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Further reading

  1. Tileaga, C. (2007). Ideologies of moral exclusion: A critical discursive reframing of depersonalization, delegitimization and dehumanization. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 717–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Leudar, I., Marsland, V. & Nekvapil, J. (2004). On membership categorization: ‘Us’, ‘them’ and ‘doing violence’ in political discourse. Discourse and Society, 15, 243–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Steve Kirkwood, Simon Goodman, Chris McVittie and Andy McKinlay 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steve Kirkwood
    • 1
  • Simon Goodman
    • 2
  • Chris McVittie
    • 3
  • Andy McKinlay
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK
  2. 2.Coventry UniversityUK
  3. 3.Queen Margaret UniversityUK

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