Unaccompanied refugee minors and youth in Sweden – a review of research in the 21st century

This lecture will discuss a review I have conducted that covers more than two hundred peer-reviewed articles, doctoral theses and scientific reports published in the last three decades, which focus on the category of “unaccompanied” migrant minors and youth in Sweden.

In Sweden, more or less all unaccompanied migrants have applied for refugee status, thus a study of the experiences of unaccompanied migrants - or the practices of those who support them - is more or less implicitly also a study of refugee reception. This review focuses on the last three decades since, arguably, during this period the category of “unaccompanied” minors or youth has grown into a central issue in public policy and discourse in Sweden. During 2015, Sweden received - by far - the largest number of asylum seeking unaccompanied minors and youth in Europe per capita and a large number of publications were published in the wake of these developments. I will discuss trends and themes that have developed over time within this large body of research in an attempt to unveil how this key migrant categorisation has been constructed and understood. By including studies conducted within varying fields, such as migration studies, sociology, social work, public health research and psychological research, the review enables a discussion of how the issue of “unaccompanied” minors and youth intersect with other contemporary societal and political issues. The review will also discuss what, if any, aspects of the experiences of unaccompanied minors and youth are worth researching further. The politically contested position of the figure of the “unaccompanied” minor or youth calls for a consideration of what the reasons for further knowledge production within this field is useful for. The review critically discusses the role of this research in relation to parallel political processes that both aim to increase the scope of “unaccompanied” minors’ and youth’s rights and at the same control and govern their mobility and territorial presence.

This online lecture is part of the EuMIGS Lecture Series 2022 on migration policy and refugee reception in the (trans-) local context.

Jacob Lind is a researcher at Malmö University.


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