Credibility Assessments as 'Normative Leakage': Asylum Applications, Gender and Class

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

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Credibility Assessments as 'Normative Leakage': Asylum Applications, Gender and Class


  • Hanna Wikström Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Box 720, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden Faculty of Law, University of Uppsala, Box 512, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
  • Thomas Johansson Department of Pedagogy, Learning and Communication, University of Gothenburg, Box 300, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden


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Abstract:  Based on the assumption that credibility assessments function as 'normative leakage' within the asylum process, we analyse how narratives of gender and class are articulated, rendered meaningful, or silenced in credibility assessments. Two cases concerning male applicants are selected in order to illustrate these processes. In relation to the existing concepts of internal/external credibility, we wish to introduce the concept of social credibility, which focuses on how the assessors read different socio-cultural narratives. While previous research has shown that the postcolonial will to protect women favours women as victims of patriarchal cultures, we wish to point out the continuity of this line of argumentation in relation to male and female applicants by adopting a theoretical generalization: male applicants instead become situated at the other end of the spectrum of postcolonial notions of modernity as non-victims, victims of other circumstances or perpetrators. We argue that these processes are accentuated in relation to credibility assessments. In order to prevent processes of social exclusion and to enhance inclusive practice, authorities need to acknowledge the 'normative leakage' associated with the assessment process.

Keywords:  asylum process; case study; class; credibility assessments; gender; norms; postcolonial

Published:   25 October 2013


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v1i2.115


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