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Last updated:

April 14, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

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The words 'refugee' and 'asylum seeker' have a wide variety of connotations in Britain, many of them negative.

This course, Who counts as a refugee?, explores how changing social policy and terminology help to shape, and are shaped by, the experiences of people seeking asylum in the UK.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand changing constructions of ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ over the last century
  • Identify ways in which the study of refugees and asylum seekers raises profound questions about the basis and legitimacy of claims for ‘citizenship’
  • Understand how the personal lives of refugees and asylum seekers have been shaped by social policy that constructs them as ‘other’
  • Understand how refugees and asylum seekers have negotiated and resisted these effects and themselves shaped social policy
  • Understand how ‘knowledge’ about refugees and asylum seekers is produced and reproduced through research.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction 00:05:00
  • Learning outcomes 00:07:00
  • The aspects and meanings of citizenship 00:20:00
  • Personal lives 00:40:00
  • Social policy and citizenship 00:20:00
    • The context and significance of the historical moments under consideration 00:25:00
    • Feminist perspectives: who counts as a refugee? 00:30:00
    • Post-structuralist perspectives: the production of social meaning 00:30:00
    • National identity and diasporic citizenship 00:25:00
    • Legal status and belonging 00:10:00
    • What would you include in such a test? 00:15:00
    • ‘Maybe you can look, but you cannot touch’: asylum and restricting access to welfare 00:15:00
    • ‘No-choice’ dispersal 00:15:00
    • Shopping with ‘vouchers’ 00:30:00
    • Citizenship as ‘participation in social life’ 00:25:00
    • How is ‘knowledge’ about refugees and asylum seekers produced and reproduced? 00:02:00
    • What kind of evidence has been used in this course? 00:30:00
    • Why do you think the Home Secretary did not draw on this research when interpreting the asylum statistics presented in the February 2003 press release? 00:15:00
    • Conclusion 00:15:00
    • Further resources 00:10:00

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Open University UK