‘Are We An Experiment?’ Informality as Indispensable for Syrians’ Resettlement in the UK

Blunt, Caroline (2021) ‘Are We An Experiment?’ Informality as Indispensable for Syrians’ Resettlement in the UK. Migration Letters, 18 (2). pp. 215-228. ISSN 1741-8984

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v18i2.1202


This article unpacks the status and significance of informal social infrastructures within the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS) in one region of the UK to offer a case study exemplifying an enduring and renewed political embeddedness of informalities as an idiosyncratically British way of governing migrant incorporation and producing social order. From the perspective of the scheme’s formal design, this was ‘bottom-up’, ‘community-led’ activity for community or ‘social’ integration. For refugees this was the existence and availability of a quality of sociality productive of a sense of existence and a viable and possible life, in other words, defining – above and beyond discrete domains or material things - what had been hoped for and expected from resettlement. Where this ‘informal social infrastructure’ was available, refugees conveyed an experience of positive processes of life, resonating with discussions of existential movement. Where unavailable refugees conveyed experience of a persistent or even worsened sense of biographical interruption that forced migration has been likened to. The article aims to contribute to informalities scholarship in relation to the imbrication of informal-formal as means of governance and attest to the significance of informalities to the reduction of uncertainty, production of stability.

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