Sammanfattning av publikation

Karlsson, 2021 đź”—

Children’s lived rights – The everyday politics of asylum-seeking children 

Year: 2021

Type of text: Doctoral Thesis

Published by: Stockholm University

Language: English

Author: Sandra Karlsson

Pages: 148

Available at:

Short description of the text 

“An overall concern of this thesis is how asylum politics affect the conditions for asylum-seeking children’s rights in the Swedish reception system. But, most importantly, this thesis takes an interest in how asylum politics affect how asylum-seeking children’s rights are lived in their everyday lives, and in how children, in their everyday spaces, navigate within the local politics of asylum regulations. In this thesis, I have explored these issues with an ethnographic approach, exploring asylum-seeking children’s lived experiences and perspectives amid asylum politics.” (p. 2)

“In this thesis, I instead explore young asylum-seeking children’s everyday experiences and perspectives when they are placed in the Swedish asylum reception system with their families.” (p. 2)

“In my thesis, my ambition is to engage in an exploration of young asylum-seeking children’s agency and how and when their everyday actions can be understood as political, exploring how the children in this study negotiate their position as asylum-seeking children, that is, that is, their legal status as asylum-seekers and their social position as children, and the political conditions for the rights that come with this position.” (p. 4)

Most important results

“In conclusion, this thesis shows how the children were affected by the conditions embedded in asylum politics and how their political agency was evoked and enacted in relation to the politics that permeated their everyday lives. It argues that the children’s ways of engaging in hidden politics should be understood in relation to their uncertain position in this high-stakes context. The combined analyses of children’s everyday politics in the three studies have also illuminated, what I have called, children’s lived rights in an asylum context.” (abstract)

Theoretical perspective/framework

“Two theoretical perspectives have been important for my analyses: children’s everyday politics and children’s geographies. In particular, I will present theoretical considerations regarding how children’s navigation in their everyday lives, as well as their articulations and practices, can be understood as everyday politics.” (p. 23)

“My thesis connects to childhood studies and children’s geographies, my goal being to arrive at an interdisciplinary approach to children’s rights in dialogue with these two fields. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989) can indeed provide an important political tool for children’s rights but my approach instead focuses on children’s perspectives and practices (cf. Holzscheiter et al., 2019; Kallio, 2012; Skelton, 2007). In line with Karl Hanson and colleagues, I advocate an approach to children’s rights that moves away from legal inquiries into explorations of children’s own notions of rights (Hanson, 2014; Hanson & Nieuwenhuys, 2013; Reynolds et al., 2006).”(p. 2)

“Another underlying theoretical issue in this thesis concerns children’s political agency and how their everyday actions, in relation to the power relations they are entangled in, can be understood as everyday politics (Kallio, 2009; Kallio & Häkli, 2011b; Mitchell & Elwood, 2012). Kirsii Pauliina Kallio and Jouni Häkli have argued that children should always be recognized as potential political actors, advocating for a broadened understanding of politics that recognize the politics involved in children’s everyday practices and in the events that unfold in their everyday lives (Häkli & Kallio, 2018; Kallio & Häkli, 2010; 2011a; 2011b).” (p. 3)


“I have explored the everyday lives of asylum-seeking children arriving with their families in Sweden, drawing on a multisite fieldwork (autumn 2015 to autumn 2016) with a group of young children (6-12 years old), over the period of one year, in their school and the asylum centre where they lived. Methodologically, it is based on an ethnographic approach and endeavours to explore asylum-seeking children’s everyday politics in their lived worlds at school and at the asylum centre.” (p. 2)

“In this thesis three empirical arenas are explored, namely the participating children’s asylum centre housing (Study I), their school (Study III) and their arenas for play (Study II).” (p. 5)

Policy suggestions

“In conclusion, if young children’s rights in their lived forms are to be realized, their voices and agency should be taken seriously. In this thesis, the children’s aspirations did not merely concern having a roof over their heads and adequate housing, but rather a right to have a home and to be able to feel safe at home, that is, a right to belong in Sweden.” (p. 104)

Summarized by: Josefine Carlsson