Living in Permanent Temporariness: A Qualitative Study of Asylum Seekers’ Experiences of Asylum Housing in Glasgow

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    The term ‘permanent temporariness’ is used to refer to a ‘static experience of being temporary’ and the ‘acquired knowledge that such temporariness is permanent’ (Bailey et al., 2002: 139). In the UK, a centralised National Asylum Support Service system provides support to asylum seekers. Asylum housing, in particular, has been a mechanism to exclude asylum seekers from others within their new community, keep them under the state control, cast them as undeserving people and force them to live in difficult circumstances. Although asylum housing is supposed to be temporary – a place where one lives pending a decision on one’s asylum application – asylum seekers often spend years in a period of waiting. Their circumstances as individuals awaiting an outcome on their asylum application highlights the different degrees of state control over asylum seekers through housing and settlement process (Phillips, 2006). Using qualitative data drawn from interviews with 16 asylum seekers living in Glasgow – a city that receives the largest number of asylum seekers and is also the largest dispersal location in the UK (Mulvey, 2015; Strang, Baillot and Mignard, 2017) – this paper explains how housing creates a state of permanent temporariness in asylum seekers’ everyday lives and how they negotiate living in such circumstances. Findings show that there is variability in terms of time spent in accommodation and vulnerabilities linked to relocation, with asylum seekers experiencing a high logistic and emotional burden. For these individuals, asylum (temporary) housing has served as a daily reminder of temporariness and uncertainty that leads to their inability to effectively settle and prosper.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    EventCongress of the Swiss Sociological Association -
    Duration: 28 Jun 202130 Jun 2021


    ConferenceCongress of the Swiss Sociological Association
    Abbreviated titleSociocongress21


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