'Vulnerability’: Rethinking Stories about ‘the Refugee’

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper will discuss the 'narrative of vulnerability' that is emerging in relation to stories about 'the refugee'. The UNHCR has stated that forced displacement across the world increased dramatically in 2015, with record-high numbers. Their figures show more than one million refugees came to Europe by sea in 2015 and they estimate almost 4,000 drowned. However, the right to asylum has been undermined by varying and diametric responses at a European Union, nation-state and personal level. For decades, restrictive border controls, directed toward managing the flow of refugees coming into neoliberal democracies, have become a defining feature of contemporary immigration policy. This social order has kept the consequences of forced displacement, violence and inequalities largely hidden from European publics. In a unilateral approach to the so-called 'refugee-crisis', and despite an absence of increased numbers of refugees in the UK, the UK Home Secretary set-up the time-limited 'Syrian Vulnerable Person
Resettlement Programme' (SVPRP) for a specified number of selected Syrian refugees to come to the UK. The SVPRP is a glaring divergence from the existing asylum provision and exemplifies the latest hierarchy of rights and
entitlements to emerge in relation to 'the refugee'. Increasingly a 'narrative of vulnerability' is used to underline and solidify distinctions between people who are deemed 'deserving' of protection and those who are storied as
'undeserving'. Policies and interventions have narrowed the protection space for refugees and 'the vulnerable' have become a marker for the brave new world of 'the refugee'.
Period4 Apr 2017
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference: Recovering the Social: Personal Troubles and Public Issues
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational