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Asylum Politics, the Internet and the Public Sphere: UK Refugee Support Groups Online
Unformatted Document Text:  8 Asylum Aid site, which provides a link to a flyer with telephone and email details of the relevant persons to contact. Another type of information addressed to ‘specialists’ concerns job vacancies: for instance, the Asylum Aid site advertised a vacancy for a caseworker. Recruitment links are also offered by the Immigration Advisory Service, and the Electronic Immigration Network. This type of specialist information appears to be addressed to both persons and organisations dealing with asylum/immigration. Thus, the Asylum Support Information site provides extensive downloadable information on countries, studies, statistics, and links to sites of other sites of refugee support groups, relevant government sites, email lists and so on. Whilst the Asylum Support Information site is by far the most comprehensive, other sites address refugee support groups as well. T he Immigration and Asylum Resource Project , for instance, is addressed to “agencies and organisations in Birmingham and the West Midlands which assist people with immigration problems and asylum seekers”, and in its online guise operates mainly as a directory offering address and telephone details of relevant resources. As part of the directory services offered to other refugee support groups, we can include here the various links to the websites of other refugee groups; this cross-linking and cross-citing appears to be an important means of addressing the refugee support community. Similarly, NOTTAS (Nottingham Asylum Seekers) is “a place on the Internet intended as a means to enable local organisations to share and access information quickly, easily and from one source”. Here, one can find not only statistics on (local) asylum applications and similar information, but also a report on strategies for working with refugees: the site provides a link to a downloadable summary of a report entitled ‘Towards a Cultural Strategy for Working with Refugees and People Seeking Asylum’. Other ‘specialists’ addressed here include the research and academic community: links to academic studies of asylum/immigration issues, as well as country reports are found at the Asylum Support Information, the Institute of Race Relations, and the Refugee Council site to refer to but three. Relevant publications are advertised and can be ordered online, while the research and academic community is also addressed through links to academic sites, through postings, advertisements, and links to conferences, both forthcoming and past. This public is further addressed in a political manner, through the online publication of their stance towards the relevant laws and policies. As noted earlier, whilst this political positioning is also aimed at the government/policy makers, as well as the general public, its audience here seems to include other refugee support groups, which can then use this information for their purposes, reproduce it, adapt it, dispute it and so on. Thus, NOTTAS provides a link to the Institute of Race Relations’ positioning on asylum, while the Refugee Council refers to the reactions to the new Bill by Oxfam and Amnesty International UK. In these terms, the main addressee of this political positioning is the government and policy makers. An important qualification, however, needs to be made here. Whilst indeed these are the primary addressees of this political positioning, and perhaps because they are the primary recipients, the online publishing of the groups’ stance appears somewhat superfluous. Indeed, the government/policy community must have been made aware of this stance much earlier, and through a more direct (and ‘private’?) medium. An example of addressing the policy makers can be found in the Institute for Race Relations’ link to a report on ‘The Crimes of National Asylum Support Service’ (NASS), which “challenges NASS to review its procedures and policies”. In the online publication of their views, thus, the groups seek to accomplish other goals and to address a different public: first, as already discussed, the general public; and second, and no less important, a public of other refugee support groups. While in addressing the general public the goal seems to be persuasion, in the case of other refugee support groups the goal is more likely to be an informational one, or one of broadening the debate within refugee support groups.

Authors: Siapera, Eugenia.
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8
Asylum Aid site, which provides a link to a flyer with telephone and email details of the relevant persons
to contact. Another type of information addressed to ‘specialists’ concerns job vacancies: for instance,
the Asylum Aid site advertised a vacancy for a caseworker. Recruitment links are also offered by the
Immigration Advisory Service, and the Electronic Immigration Network.
This type of specialist information appears to be addressed to both persons and organisations
dealing with asylum/immigration. Thus, the Asylum Support Information site provides extensive
downloadable information on countries, studies, statistics, and links to sites of other sites of refugee
support groups, relevant government sites, email lists and so on. Whilst the Asylum Support
Information site is by far the most comprehensive, other sites address refugee support groups as well.
T
he Immigration and Asylum Resource Project
, for instance, is addressed to “agencies and organisations
in Birmingham and the West Midlands which assist people with immigration problems and asylum
seekers”, and in its online guise operates mainly as a directory offering address and telephone details
of relevant resources. As part of the directory services offered to other refugee support groups, we can
include here the various links to the websites of other refugee groups; this cross-linking and cross-
citing appears to be an important means of addressing the refugee support community. Similarly,
NOTTAS (Nottingham Asylum Seekers) is “a place on the Internet intended as a means to enable local
organisations to share and access information quickly, easily and from one source”. Here, one can find
not only statistics on (local) asylum applications and similar information, but also a report on strategies
for working with refugees: the site provides a link to a downloadable summary of a report entitled
‘Towards a Cultural Strategy for Working with Refugees and People Seeking Asylum’.
Other ‘specialists’ addressed here include the research and academic community: links to
academic studies of asylum/immigration issues, as well as country reports are found at the Asylum
Support Information, the Institute of Race Relations, and the Refugee Council site to refer to but three.
Relevant publications are advertised and can be ordered online, while the research and academic
community is also addressed through links to academic sites, through postings, advertisements, and
links to conferences, both forthcoming and past.
This public is further addressed in a political manner, through the online publication of their
stance towards the relevant laws and policies. As noted earlier, whilst this political positioning is also
aimed at the government/policy makers, as well as the general public, its audience here seems to
include other refugee support groups, which can then use this information for their purposes, reproduce
it, adapt it, dispute it and so on. Thus, NOTTAS provides a link to the Institute of Race Relations’
positioning on asylum, while the Refugee Council refers to the reactions to the new Bill by Oxfam and
Amnesty International UK.
In these terms, the main addressee of this political positioning is the government and policy
makers. An important qualification, however, needs to be made here. Whilst indeed these are the
primary addressees of this political positioning, and perhaps because they are the primary recipients,
the online publishing of the groups’ stance appears somewhat superfluous. Indeed, the
government/policy community must have been made aware of this stance much earlier, and through a
more direct (and ‘private’?) medium. An example of addressing the policy makers can be found in the
Institute for Race Relations’ link to a report on ‘The Crimes of National Asylum Support Service’
(NASS), which “challenges NASS to review its procedures and policies”. In the online publication of
their views, thus, the groups seek to accomplish other goals and to address a different public: first, as
already discussed, the general public; and second, and no less important, a public of other refugee
support groups. While in addressing the general public the goal seems to be persuasion, in the case of
other refugee support groups the goal is more likely to be an informational one, or one of broadening
the debate within refugee support groups.


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