‘The Politics of Experience’: Young Refugees, the Dialogical Self & Therapeutic Social Work, Within a Psycho-Analytic Agency Context

Prof Doc Thesis

Meehan, Khurshid 2018. ‘The Politics of Experience’: Young Refugees, the Dialogical Self & Therapeutic Social Work, Within a Psycho-Analytic Agency Context. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London CASS School of Education and Communities https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.8159
AuthorsMeehan, Khurshid
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study is set in a psychoanalytic mental health outpatient agency and focuses on five adolescent refugees who were part of a specialist service. From a social work perspective it seemed the young people were subject to two contradictory dominant discourses – the hostile socio-political discourse of the “unwanted invader”, whilst inside the agency, the static, essentialised identity allied to the dominant discourse of trauma.
The young people were clearly not a homogenous group, despite all seeking asylum. The agency discourse was seen to play a prominent role in framing the young person’s needs, shaping their identity and legitimating the role of the agency and their activities. Its trauma-focussed understanding of these young people on the meso-level, reflected a distinct and parallel process occurring on the macro-level outside the agency. Both discourses served to restrict the possibilities for other identities and stories being shared, whilst providing ‘certainties’ and ‘security’ in the presence of the other.
Adopting a multi-level, trans-theoretical approach acknowledged that the reliance on a specific knowledge base, had the potential to create bias and failed to consider environmental factors and the inherent personal resources of each of the young people.
Adopting narrative ethnography and dialogical narrative analysis, recognised the stories the young people shared during our ‘encounters’ were likely to be multi-vocal and ‘drenched’ in social factors. Through ‘open dialogue,’ meaning was created together, which had the potential to empower and invite new voices and identities to emerge.
The findings conclude that the young people were ‘purposive actors’, whose stories often expressed the pain and suffering of past events, and the oppressive influence of the macro, but also their considerable efforts to negotiate ascribed identities and develop, ‘sameness’ with the dominant host, thereby creating new identities, in their ‘struggle of becoming’.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.8159
Publication dates
PrintApr 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited22 May 2019
Publisher's version
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