Sammanfattning av publikation

Linde, Lindegren & Sundelin, 2021 🔗

High-Stakes counselling: when career counselling may lead to continuing residence or deportation of asylum-seeking youths

Year: 2021

Type of text: Vetenskaplig Artikel

Published by:  British Journal of Sociology of Education

Language: English

Author: Jonna Linde, Joakim Lindegren & Åsa Sundelin

Pages: 16

Available at:

Short description of text 

“In this article we analyse what happens to career counselling when it is intertwined with the asylum process. A Swedish example is an amendment to the education legislation, regarding residence permits for upper secondary level students. Following the resulting changes in juridical, educational and interpersonal conditions, career counsellors must deliver ‘high-stakes counselling’ that can profoundly affect individuals’ prospects of asylum or deportation.” (p. 1)  

Most important results

“We conclude that a consequence is institutional introduction of conditional citizenship of asylum-seeking students. This allows countries to select migrants through education, which severely conflicts not only with counselling ideals, but also democratic and equality values regarding possibilities to make choices for the future, thus creating ethical dilemmas for counsellors“ (p. 1)

“The interviews with teachers showed that this places them in a difficult situation since the grading determines if their students will have a chance to stay in the country. Some mentioned that they are often socially committed to their students, which makes the grading and professional evaluation emotionally loaded” (p. 7)

“The interviews with the principals revealed that they were struggling to some extent with limited staff resources and organisational issues connected to their pedagogical leadership, such as guiding and supporting the staff in grading practices and career choices that are inextricably tangled with migration issues. The principals are also responsible for the wellbeing of the school staff and students, which they said has become more difficult and more serious following implementation of the ARP” (p. 7)

“Interviewed municipal politicians also recognized that the ARP poses dilemmas, clearly stating that it creates trapdoors for the students, and that the school staff are obliged to accept and work in accordance with the system. Thus, the ARP deeply affects not only the students’ chances of staying in the country, but also tasks of the school staff (e.g. teacher’s professional grading and counselling) and their abilities to work in accordance with their ideals, as well as both municipal officials’ and municipal politicians’ distribution of resources” (p. 7)

“From our survey, 61% in rural municipalities, 64% in smaller cities, and 67% in commuting municipalities states that they offer recurring activities to increase their students’ knowledge of the labour market. Regarding recurring activities related to educational options, there were more variations between the municipality types, the commuter municipalities had the lowest rate of positive answers (67%), the small cities report the highest (83%), and the rural municipalities (73%) related to this question” (p. 7)

“However, here too there are local differences in organization of the recontextualization field and possibilities to implement ideals from the production field. Only 55% of responding counsellors in our survey who were based in the rural municipalities fully or partly agreed that there is an official strategy regarding counselling practice, compared to 80% in smaller cities and 77% in commuting municipalities” (p. 8)

“Many municipalities had to establish organisations quickly and hire staff who had to rapidly learn and adapt to their new job. At the same time, national politicians (agents in the field of production) passed the ARP and demanded its urgent implementation by the municipalities. Our data show that the municipalities (agents in the field of recontextualization) had little preparation for those rapid changes, thus the counsellors often felt obliged to interpret and implement the ARP in isolation. All interviewed counsellors requested support and guidance from the SMA regarding implications of the ARP to interpret the new conditions. A criticism highlighted in the interviews concerns the paucity of information from the SMA, which was and is beyond the municipalities’ control, but as a contributor to the regulatory discourse affected the municipalities counselling practices” (p. 9)

“Interestingly, no critique was aimed at the level of recontextualization, i.e. the counsellors did not even seem to expect any support from their local municipalities. However, more than half (56%) in our survey answered that the counsellors are solely responsible for providing information and conversations about educational and vocational choices. Many of the interviewed counsellors confirmed that although they had teachers and other colleagues at their schools, they had sole responsibility for providing information and guidance” (p. 9).

“Moreover, the counsellors are among the first to hear and inform students that they may soon be deported. These are difficult conversations that are not covered in the counsellors’ training from the field of production. Thus, severe professional clashes arise in counselling conversations between the harsh regulative discourse regarding the ARP’s requirements and the instructional discourse regarding counselling ideals and aspirations to find accessible paths based on individuals’ interests and dreams. The counsellors expressed feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness as they do not know how to manage the relations with the students and their vulnerable situation” (p. 11).

“Our study also highlights risks of injustice arising from variations in geographically-related local conditions and the associated recontextualization field. The survey shows that the counsellors’ framework for implementing counselling partly depends on the municipality type (here: rural, small town or commuter). Moreover, provision of recurring activities providing knowledge about education or the labour market is crucial for meeting requirements set by the ARP, but varies because of variations in geographical conditions and associated possibilities to offer counselling“ (p. 12)

“Our analysis indicates that although regulative discourses are certainly not necessarily antithetical to instructional discourses, they certainly seem to have strongly conflicting elements in the focal context. The ARP obliges counsellors to ignore ideals regarding challenging ideas about broadening students’ horizons and occupational restrictions based on gender, social and cultural background. However, the regulatory discourse in counselling conversations dictated by requirements of the ARP may also indirectly direct asylum-seeking students into a certain social class, thereby further loosening the inclusive ambition for counselling (Hertzberg and Sundelin 2014)” (p. 13)

Theoretical perspective/framework

Bernsteinian Theory

The key theoretical starting points are the concepts: “field of production”, “official recontextualizing field” and “instructing and regulatory discourses.


Ethnographically inspired fieldwork, semi-structured interviews, and thematic analysis.

Present the findings in an integrated analysis.

Suggestions for further research

“[…] further research should focus primarily on the most devastating consequences: institutional introduction of various forms of conditional citizenship for asylum-seeking students and effects of the protracted processes on educational practices of the professionals as well as the students” (p. 13)

Summarized by: Josefine Carlsson