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Restricting participation: Unaccompanied children in interpreter-mediated asylum hearings in Sweden
Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Begränsad delaktighet : Ensamkommande barn i tolkmedierade utredningsintervjuer i Sverige (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The overall goal of this thesis was to highlight different communicative aspects of participation in interpreter-mediated asylum hearings with unaccompanied Russianspeaking children who had applied for asylum in Sweden between 2001 and 2005. Participation in the asylum process is guaranteed to these children by the Swedish Administrative Law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which are incorporated in the Swedish Aliens Act. The Migration authorities in their work with asylum seeking minors have integrated principles of the best interests of the child and the principle of respecting the children’s views on matters concerning them.

In this thesis, we have studied the conditions of participation in a highly complex, hybrid activity type, where participants face contradictory demands. Hybridity can be traced in communicative dilemmas which are difficult to solve and handle for all the participants involved, including the caseworkers, interpreters and children. The caseworkers are expected to control an interview in which whole of the communicative exchange is rendered by interpreters who influence the progress of the encounter. Contradiction lies in the fact that the caseworkers are expected to treat all asylum seekers equally both as a group and individually, by relating to general legal regulations and at the same time, take into account the interests and individual needs of an individual child. It might be difficult for these caseworkers to stay neutral and meet underage clients whose life stories and experiences, conduct and needs differ considerably from what is usually ascribed to children.

Asylum seeking children come to Sweden to stay. Our results have shown that they take an active role in their attempts to lead to a positive outcome in their cases. In this respect, children’s testimonies and the impression they make as informants play a salient role. The communicative tasks faced by the adolescents are, however, difficult to achieve. Previous life conditions, vulnerability, psychosomatic problems, and memory and concentration difficulties may affect their performance. Other factors which might further impede these children from achieving their task is the pragmatic and linguistic deficiency, which they experience in a context where they lack communicative means and are not fully aware of the norms and regulations relevant for the encounter. Despite hese limitations, it seems that these minors try hard to shoulder their role as asylum seekers and informants actively and strategically. One strategy chosen by the children was to disclose information selectively. They tried to avoid answering questions which could reveal their age, origin or the whereabouts of their caregivers and thereby enable authorities to establish their identity and send them back. To compensate for their uncooperativeness in this area, the adolescents tended to provide information which had not been asked for.

Our studies have shown that children could have been prevented by both the caseworkers and interpreters from expressing their views and opinions in a free and self-chosen way. In this respect, interpreters’ contributions were salient for what information was forwarded to the caseworkers. In some cases, they changed both the language and the format of the responses provided by the children. Some of the communicative strategies which were initiated by the interpreters could be linked to both their professional skills and to the hybridity and the complexity of the situation. Interpreters had difficulties staying neutral in relation to the children and orient them in the encounters. Age differences between the participants could also have an impact on how the children were treated and the respect and importance attributed to their voices. We have identified sequences where interpreters initiated monolingual exchanges with one of the interlocutors where they actively tried to exclude and discredit the children’s voices, something which often happened with the tacit approval of the caseworkers.

Thus, it can be seen that communicative premises which are inherent in the asylum hearings influence the participant statuses of the children and their possibilities to express their asylum claims.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2009. , 51 + papers 1-4 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 501Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 31
Keyword [en]
Children, conditions for participation, interpreter-mediated asylum hearings, communication.
Keyword [sv]
Barn, delaktighet, tolkmedierade utredningssamtal, kommunikation.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-52753ISBN: 978-91-7393-499-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-52753DiVA: diva2:285469
Public defence
2009-12-21, Key 1, Hus Key, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-01-12 Created: 2010-01-12 Last updated: 2014-09-29Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Mediated communication with minors in asylum-seeking hearings
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mediated communication with minors in asylum-seeking hearings
2008 (English)In: The Journal of Refugee Studies, ISSN 0951-6328, E-ISSN 1471-6925, Vol. 21, no 1, 103-116 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study evaluated caseworkers' information-seeking prompts in interviews with asylum-seeking minors and assesses the accuracy of the translations provided by interpreters. Twenty six Russian-speaking minors were individually interviewed by one of 10 caseworkers assisted by one of 17 interpreters. A quantitative analysis examined the type of questions asked and the accuracy of the corresponding renditions. The actual and translated content of the messages were examined using a qualitative analysis. The study showed that interviewers relied heavily on focused questions, which are more likely to elicit inaccurate information. When open questions were asked, the interviewers tended to ask narrow 'directive' questions rather than broader 'invitations'. The interpreters' renditions of utterances were often inaccurate. Almost half of the misrepresentations altered the content and one third involved changes in the type of question asked. This indicates that both interviewers and translators clearly need special training to ensure that they serve asylum-seeking minors adequately. © The Author [2008]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-38215 (URN)10.1093/jrs/fem051 (DOI)42825 (Local ID)42825 (Archive number)42825 (OAI)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2017-12-13
2. Asylum seeking minors in interpreter-mediated interviews: what do theysay and what happens to their responses?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Asylum seeking minors in interpreter-mediated interviews: what do theysay and what happens to their responses?
2010 (English)In: Child & Family Social Work, ISSN 1356-7500, E-ISSN 1365-2206, Vol. 15, no 3, 325-334 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explored how asylum-seeking minors report information when formally interviewed. Twenty-six Russian-speaking minors (M= 16.0 years of age) were individually interviewed by officials assisted by one of eighteen interpreters. A quantitative analysis examined the translated questions asked by the officials, the minors’ responses to them, and the accuracy with which the minors’ responses were rendered. The asylum-seeking minors distinguished themselves as active participants. They appeared eager to disclose relevant information despite being asked many potentially contaminating questions. Most of the children’s responses were accurately rendered but mistranslations can affect the fact–finding process substantially. Both the minors and the officials involved in the asylum-seeking process need to recognise that both the questions asked and the responses given may be influenced by the third parties involved, i.e. the interpreters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2010
Keyword
Asylum hearings, informativeness, information-seeking prompts, accuracy of translation
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-52745 (URN)10.1111/j.1365-2206.2010.00681.x (DOI)000280709600007 ()
Available from: 2010-01-12 Created: 2010-01-12 Last updated: 2017-12-12
3. That is not necessary for you to know!: Negotiation of participation status of unaccompanied children in interpreter-mediated asylum hearings
Open this publication in new window or tab >>That is not necessary for you to know!: Negotiation of participation status of unaccompanied children in interpreter-mediated asylum hearings
2010 (English)In: International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting, ISSN 1384-6647, Vol. 12, no 1, 83-104 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article is a study of how the participation status of asylum-seeking children is interactively constructed in interpreter-mediated asylum hearings. We have undertaken a discourse analysis of 50 non-repair side-sequences from 26 hearings with Russian-speaking, asylum-seeking children in Sweden. A side-sequence is here defined as a monolingual sequence conducted in only one of the languages involved in the interviews. It involves the interpreter and only one of the primary interlocutors. In this article, four extracts are chosen for a micro-analysis in order to elucidate how interpreters can challenge asylum-seeking children’s participant statuses. We show that the right of the child to make his or her voice heard can be challenged, especially when the interpreters exclude, distort, discredit and guide the voices of the children, which is often done with the tacit approval of caseworkers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2010
Keyword
asylum hearing, children, interpreter-mediated talk, participation rights, side-sequences
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-52748 (URN)10.1075/intp.12.1.04kes (DOI)000281640600004 ()
Available from: 2010-01-12 Created: 2010-01-12 Last updated: 2010-09-24
4. Trustworthiness at stake: Trust and distrust ininvestigative interviews with Russian adolescent asylum-seekers in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trustworthiness at stake: Trust and distrust ininvestigative interviews with Russian adolescent asylum-seekers in Sweden
2010 (English)In: Trust and Conflict: Representation, culture and dialogue. Submitted to series Cultural dynamics of social representation / [ed] I. Marková, I. and A. Gillespie, Routledge , 2010, 240- p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Trust, distrust and conflict between social groups have existed throughout the history of humankind, although their forms have changed. Using three main concepts: culture, representation and dialogue, this book explores and re-thinks some of these changes in relation to concrete historical and contemporary events. Part I offers a symbolic and historical analysis of trust and distrust while Parts II and III examine trust, distrust and conflict in specific events including the Cyprus conflict, Estonian collective memories, coping with HIV/AIDS in China, Swedish asylum seekers, the Cuban missile crisis and Stalinist confessions. With an impressive array of international contributors the chapters draw on a number of key concepts such as self and other, ingroup and outgroup, contact between groups, categorization, brinkmanship, knowledge, beliefs and myth.  Trust and Conflict offers a fresh perspective on the problems that arise from treating trust, distrust and conflict as simplified indicators. Instead, it proposes that human and social sciences can view these phenomena within the complex matrix of interacting perspectives and meta-perspectives that characterise the social world. As such it will be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates and lecturers of human and social sciences especially social psychology, sociology, political science and communication studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2010
Series
Cultural dynamics of social representation
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-52751 (URN)97-80-415-59346-5 (ISBN)
Note

This paper was also presented at the conference: "Communication of Trust and Conspiracy in Intergroup Interaction", Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, Palazzo Serra di Cassano, Naples, Italy, on June 5-6, 2008.

Available from: 2010-01-12 Created: 2010-01-12 Last updated: 2013-04-19Bibliographically approved

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Begränsad delaktighet : Ensamkommande barn i tolkmedierade utredningsintervjuer i Sverige(253 kB)1631 downloads
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Keselman, Olga

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