“Limits of the Humanitarian: Liminal Legality, Social Exclusion, and Segregation of Asylum Seekers and Refugees”
Dr. Burak Sonmez
Lecturer in Quantitative Social Science
Program Director, BSc in Social Sciences with Data Science
University College London | Social Research Institute
Date and Room Info:
Thursday, January 11, 2024, 11:00 a.m.; A326
This study examines the social construction of asylum-seeking legality, the social exclusion of asylum seekers, and the segregation of refugees in the UK. Using three experimental studies with representative samples, we investigate the impact of asylum seekers’ attributes on their perceived legality, the influence of residential segregation on public preferences for refugee relocation, and the efficacy of perspective-taking exercises and information on the economic cost of waiting times in fostering support for improved social and labor rights for asylum seekers in the UK. The main findings reveal that the perceived legality of asylum seekers in the UK is largely influenced by the presence of authentic identity documents, despite the Refugee Convention’s stance on false identity
documents. Additionally, the study indicates that the British public is less inclined to accept the relocation of Muslim, non-professional, and non-English-speaking refugees to their boroughs. However, overall, there is a general disfavouring of high degrees of residential segregation of refugees in neighbourhoods. Importantly, the results suggest actionable policy implications for garnering public support to enhance the social and labor rights of asylum seekers and their well-being. Specifically, individuals exposed to perspective-taking treatment or information on the economic cost of waiting times on asylum claims demonstrate inclusionary attitudes and pro-social
behaviour towards asylum seekers in the UK.
Dr. Burak Sonmez is a Lecturer in Quantitative Social Science at the Social Research Institute, University College London. He is also a founding member and co-organiser of the Experimental Sociology Workshop. Before joining UCL, he worked as an LSE Fellow in Quantitative Social Research Methods at the Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Essex, holding a Master’s degree in Longitudinal Social Research and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bilkent University. His research focuses on social norms, trust, collective actions, and beliefs, using experimental and computational methods. His work has been published in the European Sociological Review and the Journal of Peace Research, among other outlets.