Citizens of nowhere? Paradoxes of state parental responsibility for unaccompanied migrant children in the UK

Francesca Meloni, Rachel Humphris

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Abstract

Social workers are confronted with a contradictory task: that of acting as state parents for unaccompanied asylum seeking children, in an era of hostile migration policies and austerity. Mobilizing Young’s (2006) concept of ‘responsibility’ we ask: how is state parental responsibility towards unaccompanied minors given meaning, and with what consequences, for both frontline workers and unaccompanied minors alike? Drawing on interviews with frontline workers and unaccompanied minors in the UK (n = 107), we delineate three modes through which responsibility operates: namely outcomes, capacity and morality. We argue that the underlying logic of responsibility shifts the blame from sociopolitical structures to migrant children themselves, with crucial consequences for questions of social justice.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfez037
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Early online date18 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2019

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