Managing Expectations: Impacts of hostile migration policies on practitioners in Britain, Denmark and Sweden

Vicky Canning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
228 Downloads (Pure)


The acknowledgement that asylum systems across Europe are ‘hostile environments’ for migrant groups has increased in academic and practitioner consciousness, particularly in the aftermath of the 2015 refugee reception crisis. However, although the impacts of socio-political hostilities on migrants are well documented, little has been written about the implications of border restrictions on practitioners working with refugee populations.

This article expands the focus of hostilities to consider the variable impacts of intensified bordering practices on this group. Based on qualitative research which included 74 interviews undertaken across Britain, Denmark and Sweden (2016-2018), it outlines the experiences of practitioners working with refugee populations. It highlights that increasingly restrictive or punitive approaches to immigration have had multiple negative effects on practitioners working in this sector. This has potential for longer term negative impacts on both practitioners, and refugee populations who require various forms of legal aid, or social and psychological support.
Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, grant number ES/NO16718/1.

Funding Information:
This article focuses on findings from a two-year research project investigating social harms in asylum systems across Britain, Denmark and Sweden, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (2016–2018). This research has been organised around a case study approach, focusing on three Northern European countries with varying— rapidly changing—approaches to immigration. As Flyvbjerg (2006) argues, case studies facilitate generalisability of social issues whilst allowing for the value of in-depth analysis in specific localised areas. This project adopted case study analyses in these countries for three reasons: firstly, to draw in a qualitative intersectional approach in looking to the micro impacts of meso and macro structures and political decisions; secondly, to allow for in-depth policy analysis and consideration of each socio-political context of the countries included—all with varying dominant socio-economic structures; and thirdly, to gain insight into best practice so that it might be shared across the countries and broader regions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors.

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for the Study of Poverty and Social Justice


  • asylum policy
  • counselling
  • law
  • refugees
  • trauma


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