Category: IMISCOE Research Series
Publisher: Springer
Library: IMISCOE Research Series
Year: 2018


This open access monograph provides sociological insight into governmental action on the administration of asylum in the European context. It offers an in-depth understanding of how decision-making officials encounter and respond to structural contradictions in the asylum procedure produced by diverging legal, political, and administrative objectives.

The study focuses on structural aspects on the one hand, such as legal and organisational elements, and aspects of agency on the other hand, examining the social practices and processes going on at the frontside and the backside of the administrative asylum system.

Coverage is based on a case study using ethnographic methods, including qualitative interviews, participant observation, as well as artefact analysis. This case study is positioned within a broader context and allows for comparison within and beyond the European system, building a bridge to the international scientific community.

 In addition, the author links the empirical findings to sociological theory. She explains the identified patterns of social practice in asylum administration along the theories of social practices, social construction and structuration. This helps to contribute to the often missing theoretical development in this particular field of research.

Overall, this book provides a sociological contribution to a key issue in today's debate on immigration in Europe and beyond. It will appeal to researchers, policy makers, administrators, and practitioners as well as students and readers interested in immigration and asylum.


  1. Introduction
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 3-28 

  2. Determining Refugee Status in the European Context: The Legal and Institutional Framework
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 29-40 

  3. The Organization: Structure, Environment and Socialization
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 43-80 

  4. The Asylum Interview as a Magnifying Glass for Key Issues: Conflicting Norms, Power Struggles, and Actors’ Strategies
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 81-114 

  5. Regulation vs. Room for Maneuver
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 119-132 

  6. Definitiveness vs. Uncertainty
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 133-151 

  7. The Human Individual vs. the Faceless Case
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 153-164 

  8. Responsibility vs. Dissociation
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 165-178 
  9. Practices in Focus: The Dilemmas That Evoke them and the Effects They Have
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 181-193 

  10. Practical Implications: How to Deal with Structural Dilemmas?
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages 195-208 

    Erratum to: Inside Asylum Bureaucracy: Organizing Refugee Status Determination in Austria
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages E1-E1

    Erratum to: Inside Asylum Bureaucracy: Organizing Refugee Status Determination in Austria
    Julia Dahlvik
    Pages E3-E3


  • This open access book provides sociological insight into governmental action on the administration of asylum in Austria
  • Links the empirical findings to sociological theory
  • Provides findings based on an institutional ethnography case study


“Understanding the ongoing European migrant crisis and its political/policy implications requires paying attention to what happens at the local and bureaucratic levels. Julia Dahlvik’s book provides a strong contribution in both regards, shedding light on the daily enforcement of asylum procedures in Austria. A must-read in the domains of refugee issues and of street-level bureaucracy.” (Professor Vincent Dubois, University of Strasbourg)

“This book delves into the heart of the matter. It examines the process of claiming asylum in Austria from a little research yet essential perspective, that of government unit responsible for assessing the credibility of asylum applications. With analytical clarity, it exposes the underlying social construction of asylum determination.” (Dawn Chatty, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration, University of Oxford)

“Julia Dahlvik’s ‘Inside Asylum Bureaucracy’ confronts troubling a contemporary social issue: the surge of asylum seekers. Her book digs deep into human rights and asylum policies and narrates experiences with and within the asylum bureaucracies. Dahlvik contests and expands street-level bureaucracy, structuration, and social construction theories. Inside Asylum Bureaucracy is based on original and compelling qualitative research and will join Sule Tomkinson’s forthcoming book, Knocking on Canada's Door: Refugee Decision Making on the Frontlines (University of British Columbia Press) as the fundamental works in this field (Professor Steven Maynard-Moody, Director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research, and Professor of Public Affairs & Administration at the University of Kansas)

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