Democracy, Power and Governance

In these politically turbulent times, questions about democracy, power and society are frequently raised. How does power work in society? Can we ever achieve equal rights when the power dynamics in society are so skewed?

With the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in focus, our publishing in this area addresses questions like these from multiple angles, from extensive research into democratic governance and the concept of political power, to the role of power between different nations in foreign policy negotiations

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Democracy, power and governance, we aim to address the following goal: 

Democracy, Power and Governance

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This chapter brings together all the main arguments and findings discussed throughout the key chapters, highlighting the key constituents and the nature of the ‘belonging-assemblage’ of unaccompanied young people living under the constraints of the UK asylum and immigration structures. Reiterating the key findings and arguments of previous chapters, it emphasizes the main argument of the book, which is that unaccompanied migrants’ belonging is also understood as an ‘assemblage’, taking place in-between and in the middle and is always in the making; therefore, it is nomadic and rhizomatic in its nature and exists in its potentiality and actuality.

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This chapter introduces the main conceptual and theoretical resources of the book after giving an in-depth, critical appraisal of the existing conceptual literature on belonging, exposing its limitations in understanding the complexity and multiplicity of the notion of belonging in general and the belonging of unaccompanied migrants more specifically. It discusses in detail Deleuze and Guattari’s theoretical terms of assemblage, molar, molecular and nomadic lines alongside others and shows their value in developing the concept of belonging and in our understanding of the belonging of unaccompanied young people in precarious positions. This chapter argues the case for a new conceptual understanding of belonging that is capable of capturing the shifts, multiplicities, complexities and paradoxes in experiencing and conceiving belonging in migration in relation to those in precarious positions.

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This chapter sets the scene for and gives context to an in-depth, theoretically informed study of the belonging of unaccompanied young people seeking asylum in the UK. It begins by introducing the story of displacement, migration and belonging of one of the participants. The participant’s accounts of the challenges of migrating to and resettling in the UK provide an anchor into which the analysis of the main findings are woven in the coming chapters.

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Unaccompanied children and adolescents seeking protection in the UK are among the most vulnerable migrant groups, and often find themselves in a hostile policy environment after enduring traumatic journeys.

This book offers an in-depth analysis of the lived experiences of belonging, and the politics and policies of migration. Focusing on unaccompanied young migrants, it investigates the conditions and nature of belonging in the face of the uncertainty, ambiguity and violence of the UK asylum system.

Drawing on interviews and the Deleuzo-Guattarian concepts of assemblage, the book provides an empirical and theoretical examination of the belonging of unaccompanied young migrants seeking protection in the UK. Through compelling accounts, the author portrays the complex and paradoxical nature of belonging under precarious conditions, shedding light on the tenacity and fragility of belonging for unaccompanied young migrants.

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This is the first chapter that presents an analysis of the empirical work undertaken to understand the experiences of unaccompanied migrants. The first section presents a data analysis of the unaccompanied migrants’ experiences of their journeys to the UK, which often involve risks to their lives and prolonged stays in transit countries, as well as them facing calamitous situations and exploitation. An analysis of the data related to unaccompanied migrants’ experiences within the asylum system and its related procedures is then introduced. Alsoresented are the data on the effects of these on unaccompanied young people’s everyday lives and the configurations of their belonging in the UK through the adoption of Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘molar line’ and ‘affect’ as the main conceptual tools, alongside the notion of ‘violence’. The key argument of this chapter is that the border/immigration and asylum policies and practices, and the understanding of belonging within these structures and apparatuses, are all understood as molar forces that produce harm and violence while functioning to remove, disrupt and erase the belonging of unaccompanied young people.

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This chapter explores the local practices and ‘micropolitics’ of the adults who support, care for and protect unaccompanied migrants. It examines how the actions, activities and attitudes of these adults contribute to the configurations of the belonging of unaccompanied young people. To do so, it moves on to spaces of care, sports clubs and youth clubs, bringing to the fore different roles taken on by or attributed to adults whose performances and counter-politics surface to play a key role in constituting the belonging of young people. Deleuze and Guattari’s main concepts of ‘molecular lines’ and ‘smooth spaces’ resource this chapter particularly. The main argument and conclusion of this chapter are that while the belonging of unaccompanied migrants is constrained, unsettled and rejected by molar forces, it is simultaneously encouraged and made possible by molecular flows, movements and subjects and ‘smooth spaces’.

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This chapter draws on the data on the nature and functioning of belonging of unaccompanied young people by following a series of moments, relationships, sites and passages of time. It brings in the analysis of the data from all chapters. Through the focus on the notions of ‘nomadic lines’ and ‘rhizome’ and by following Braidotti’s ideas of subjectivity as nomadic, it further maps several important components and key features of unaccompanied young people’s belonging. A key argument of this chapter – and this book overall – is that belonging needs to be viewed as nomadic/rhizomatic assemblages. It utilizes this understanding in this chapter as a way of foregrounding the active subjectivities of unaccompanied young people who are often portrayed negatively within the media and dominant public and political discourses. Another important argument made here is that belonging exists in its potentiality and actuality, which are both viewed as real, challenging the dualism of ‘belonging/unbelonging’ or ‘personal/political’ belonging, and introducing a new angle on the absences and inconsistencies of belonging.

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This chapter gives the background to the research context. It starts with a section containing an analysis of the immigration, border and asylum policy frameworks and the migration governance that shapes the lives of unaccompanied young people. This section will also involve looking at some of the key challenges these policies pose for unaccompanied young people. The next section provides an overview of the empirical literature on unaccompanied young people seeking asylum in the UK and belonging, revealing some of the current research gaps. Following the discussion of this literature, the next and last sections discuss some of the key details around the research design and methodology.

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In the Conclusion we go through the main findings of the book showing the importance of multidimensional approaches to welfare attitude studies, and also the importance of including political and cultural trajectories when analysing welfare attitudes. It is argued that doing so successfully means decentring the European experience and historical trajectories that have served as benchmarks for concepts in welfare attitude studies. The chapter goes on to suggest ways in which we can improve our methodological and theoretical approaches in welfare attitude studies to get more comprehensive understandings of welfare attitudes across countries in the world.

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Chapter 5 explores the importance of cultural value systems when it comes to welfare and welfare attitudes. A key finding is that it is crucial that we do not default to using Confucianism as a catch-all explanation of values in these societies as there is great variation in attitudes and values across them. A focus on a collective, here often represented as the family, and other factors such as ideological socialisation, personal factors and experiences are found to be important when we explore the extent to which cultural aspects can explain who has what welfare attitudes. The chapter shows how attitudes towards gender roles are crucial and important to take into account when analysing welfare attitudes in East Asia as these attitudes shapes views of who should do what and why when it comes to care and welfare provision in the community – key elements in welfare attitudes and deservingness. Much higher percentages than in Western countries see it as the family’s role to care for elderly and children under school age. Furthermore, the role of family in supporting education is important.

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