Young people seeking asylum: voice and activism in a ‘hostile environment’

Grainne McMahon, Rhetta Moran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter sets out the grassroots activism of a group of four young people aged 24 to 29 who were seeking asylum in the UK during the hostile environment. Moving away from normative definitions of political participation as the formal activities of citizens, the work drew upon second wave feminist and Classical Marxist understandings of collective action. The chapter argues that by ‘speaking bitterness’ and creating ‘language from below’ in order to craft a play to dramaturgically depict their lived realities, the young people formed collective action and did politics ‘differently’. They engaged in biographically-meaningful, ‘personal-political’ and ‘political-personal’ activism that focused on the particular needs of their wider group. They also made ‘democracy anew’ by practicing democracy informally and in alternative, co-equal, meaningful and purposeful ways, within a hostile environment that ‘others’ them and alienates them from political and social participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYoung People’s Participation
Subtitle of host publicationRevisiting Youth and Inequalities in Europe
EditorsMaria Bruselius-Jensen, Ilaria Pitti, Kay Tisdall
PublisherPolicy Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781447345435
ISBN (Print)9781447345411
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2021


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