‘They're more than animals’: Refugees' accounts of racially motivated violence

Steve Kirkwood, Andrew McKinlay, Chris McVittie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous discursive research has found that minority group members may deny or downplay the existence of discrimination. However, to date, little research has addressed the issue of violence against minority group members. This study therefore draws on interviews with asylum seekers and refugees in a Scottish city to analyse their reports of violence committed against them. One form of reporting violence was by way of a complaint available to any speaker, in making no reference to attributes of attackers or victim. When racism was alleged, it was presented as a tentative, reluctant or ‘last resort’ explanation. The descriptions offered by interviewees reflected the contributions made by the interviewer, highlighting the ways in which these reports are interactional co-productions. The results suggest that accounts from victims of seemingly racially motivated violence may function in similar ways to ‘new racism’ in making racism seem to ‘disappear’. These findings point to the potential difficulties that arise in identifying and looking to challenge instances of ‘new racism’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Early online date22 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • refugees
  • asylum
  • discourse analysis
  • racism
  • violence


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  • Discursive psychological research on refugees

    Kirkwood, S. & Goodman, S., 30 Nov 2018, Discourse, Peace, and Conflict: Discursive Psychology Perspectives. Gibson, S. (ed.). 1 ed. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, p. 169-185 (Peace Psychology Book Series).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access

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