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Socio-legal status and experiences of forced labour among asylum seekers and refugees in the UK

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Publication details

JournalJournal of International and Comparative Social Policy
DateSubmitted - 19 Sep 2015
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Mar 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2016
DatePublished (current) - 1 Oct 2016
Issue number3
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)182-198
Early online date29/04/16
Original languageEnglish


Socio-legal status, determines the differential rights to residence, work and social welfare that accrue to migrants depending on their particular immigration status. This paper presents analysis of original empirical data generated in qualitative interviews with migrants who had both made a claim for asylum and experienced conditions of forced labour in the UK. Following an outline of the divergent socio-legal statuses assigned to individual migrants within the asylum system, early discussions in the paper offer a summary of key aspects and indicators of forced labour. Subsequent sections highlight the significance of socio-legal status in constructing such migrants as inherently vulnerable to severe exploitation. It is concluded that immigration policy, and more particularly, the differential socio-legal statuses that it structures at various stages of the asylum process, helps to create the conditions in which severe exploitation and forced labour are likely to flourish among asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by ESRC grant number RES-062-23-2895

    Research areas

  • asylum seekers, forced labour, refugees, socio-legal status

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