“It really is about telling people who asylum seekers really are, because we are human like anybody else”: negotiating victimhood in refugee advocacy work
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AbstractThis article explores how refugee advocates, and refugees themselves, manage social hostility towards refugees and migrants through their talk, specifically how this hostility is managed through orientation to the category ‘victim’. Case studies from the publicity materials of four advocacy organisations, as well as the ‘internal’ talk of their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries collected via Narrative Biographical Interviews, are analysed using discourse analytic methods, specifically Membership Categorisation Analysis. This allows insight into the differing aspects of the organisation’s talk and allows analysis of how orientation to the victim category is distributed and managed across the ‘dialogical network’. This discourse analytic approach, sensitive to how members of the ‘dialogical network’ make hostile and sympathetic voices relevant features of their local talk and manage categorisations of refugees in often tacit ways, highlights a pattern of category change, where a reworking of the dominant modes of refugee representation performed by the organisations in their publicity materials is achieved by their members and beneficiaries. The category work negotiated by advocate and refugee informants rearranges the components of the helping relationship, centring the experience, voice and strength of asylum seekers/refugees, and de-centres the objectives of the helping organisations – offering insights into new ways forward for refugee advocacy as a practice of solidarity beyond charity.
CitationWroe LE (2018) '“It really is about telling people who asylum seekers really are, because we are human like anybody else”: negotiating victimhood in refugee advocacy work', Discourse and Society, 29 (3), pp.324-343.
JournalDiscourse and Society