DOI: 10.12924/si2013.01020092 |Publication Date: 25 October 2013

Credibility Assessments as 'Normative Leakage': Asylum Applications, Gender and Class

Hanna Wikström 1, 2, * and Thomas Johansson 3
1 Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
2 Faculty of Law, University of Uppsala, Sweden
3 Department of Pedagogy, Learning and Communication, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
* Corresponding author
Abstract: Based on the assumption that credibility assessments function as 'normative leak­age' within the asylum process, we analyse how narratives of gender and class are articulated, rendered meaningful, or silenced in credibility assessments. Two cases concerning male applic­ants are selected in order to illustrate these processes. In relation to the existing concepts of internal/external credibility, we wish to introduce the concept of social credibility, which focuses on how the assessors read different socio-cultural narratives. While previous research has shown that the postcolonial will to protect women favours women as victims of patriarchal cul­tures, we wish to point out the continuity of this line of argumentation in relation to male and female applicants by adopting a theoretical generalization: male applicants instead become situated at the other end of the spectrum of postcolonial notions of modernity as non-victims, victims of other circumstances or perpetrators. We argue that these processes are accentuated in relation to credibility assessments. In order to prevent processes of social exclusion and to enhance inclusive practice, authorities need to acknowledge the 'normative leakage' associated with the assessment process.

Keywords: asylum process; case study; class; credibility assessments; gender; norms; postcolonial


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