Exploring the social capital and psychological well-being of asylum seeking people: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Khan, Anoushka 2008. Exploring the social capital and psychological well-being of asylum seeking people: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsKhan, Anoushka
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Psychological research on the experiences of asylum seeking people has been predominantly focused on trauma and psychopathology, locating the distress within the individual. Exploring contextual factors may be a more appropriate approach to understanding distress generally, but particularly for asylum seeking people struggling with distinctive social-political issues.
Theory and research on social capital has provided one particular understanding of the way in which social factors, such as social networks and features of social engagement, can influence psychological health and wellbeing.
The aims of this study were to explore the social contexts of asylum seeking people, and more specifically social capital, in relation to psychological health. Nine Eritrean asylum seeking people were interviewed on their lived experience in the UK; seven of these interviews were carried out with an interpreter. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used in the exploration of shared themes in the accounts of participants. Six superordinate themes were outlined in the analyses. The themes encompass the impact of overarching social and legal restrictions on power in day-to-day lives and social experiences of the participants. Their lived experience in the UK is influenced by various social disadvantages that 'asylum-seeker' status places them in, factors related to positive well-being, known to function as buffers against psychological stress, such as a lack of access to marital and family relationships, lack of employment and financial resources for their social welfare, and other civic freedoms and rights.
However their capacity to develop and access collective resources, such as social capital, and personal resources, including faith and spirituality, were also apparent from this study. Psychological approaches to support and intervention that are able to integrate social, material and political factors, are highlighted. Reflecting on the role of psychologists in relation to human rights abuses and social injustice is also suggested.

Publication dates
PrintJul 2008
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Jun 2014
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