Agency in Waiting? Everyday Tactics of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Glasgow

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We examine how asylum seekers and refugees living in Glasgow use various tactics to survive and navigate everyday challenges within the restrictive UK immigration system. Thirty interviews were conducted with asylum seekers and refugees of various nationalities and personal backgrounds (ethnicity, class, education and migratory circumstances). Twenty state and third sector organisation staff were also interviewed. Participant observation within third sector organisations was also undertaken. While asylum seekers and refugees feel uncertainties and challenges, we found that they actively use various tactics to navigate the often-lengthy UK asylum process. ‘Agency in waiting’ encompasses the negative impact of a long stagnation period endured while awaiting confirmation of refugee status and the tactics developed despite the difficulties that asylum seekers and refugees face. We consider three ways that tactics are used: to gain familiarity, to engage in meaningful activities, and to establish social connections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1104-1116
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
Early online date1 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Agency
  • Tactics
  • Asylum seekers
  • Refugees
  • Glasgow
  • Waiting


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