The political representation of asylum seekers by migrant NGOs in Ireland: examining the policy and practice of deliberative engagement

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Dorrity, Claire
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University College Cork
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This thesis explores the political representation of asylum seekers in Ireland through an examination of the policies and practices of migrant NGOs. The rationale for undertaking the study stems from an interest in the way asylum seeker participation is facilitated and a concern that despite the promise of more participatory governance, the inclusion of asylum seekers in political processes remains under-explored. In particular, the research draws on the concepts of deliberation and participation as a guiding framework for the empirical study. Core principles underpinning the theoretical framework are drawn from Iris Marion Young’s theory of deliberative democracy. The alignments between deliberative structures and the four tenets of Young’s approach namely political equality, inclusion, public reasonableness and publicity are used to evaluate how migrant NGOs politically represent asylum seekers. The methodological approach is twofold. First, the study is anchored in critically investigating understandings and practices of representation and involves nine semi-structured interviews with migrant NGOs. Second, the study explores how asylum seekers understand, experience and participate in representation through conducting two focus groups with asylum seeker participants. Key findings highlight how ineffective representation cannot be limited to the actions of state institutions, but must also attend to how migrant NGOs facilitate participation and activism. The argument constructed from the findings illuminates how the critical scrutiny of the practices of migrant NGOs is necessary in order to re-orient practices of representation to inclusivity, openness, and the facilitation of solidarity across migrant NGOs. As such, the overall contribution demonstrates how poor representative structures inhibit opportunities for asylum seekers to become actively involved and exercise influence in decision-making processes and emphasises the need to promote the long-term consolidation of democratic governance in order to ensure active participation and a strong foundation for deliberation.
Deliberation , Participation , Collaboration , Migrant NGOs , Political representation
Dorrity, C. 2019. The political representation of asylum seekers by migrant NGOs in Ireland: examining the policy and practice of deliberative engagement. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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