This ethnographic article addresses social work’s participation in exclusionary practices performed by migration authorities in Sweden, leading to extreme precariousness among young people searching for protection. Through ethnographic descriptions of young people who fled from Sweden to other European countries, we argue that Swedish social workers played an active role in depriving young people of their social rights. A central concept in the article is administrative violence. Such institutionalised violence risks being excluded from a moral assessment. We argue that moral responsibility is not about following state rules, but may instead involve acting in a way that rules do not support. If social work accepts the boundaries of the nation-state, its border work and the logics of neoliberal ideologies, it cannot live up to the ethical standards of social work and its emphasis on social justice.
The aim of this article is to elaborate, theoretically, on the ambiguity of hope and its relation to social change in the asylum context. This ambiguity involves two different perspectives of hope. One more mundane view of hope where it is considered an emotion used to overcome complex issues and move towards a better situation in the future. A perspective often used by social and migration authorities to urge people to hope for a future should they submit to the authorities’ logic. The other perspective, more common in some research, challenges such positive connotations and argues that hope can put people in a position of suffering where hope may hinder or slow down the realisation of social change. With the aid of scholars who have theorised about hope and ethnographic cases from our research on hope in the asylum context, we develop a theoretical perspective on hope and social change. Our perspective includes concepts such as the governmentality of hope, fragmentation of hope and glimmers of hope. To grasp the relationship between hope and social change, we must account for several mixed emotions, such as feelings of despair, fear and bitterness, as well as glimmers of hope. Such mixtures of emotions may be essential to initiate and create social change. A central argument in this article is that an analysis of hope when people risk being governed by hope would benefit from a parallel analysis of social change.