Language and guardianship: A sociolinguistic ethnography of the multilingual resources and strategies used in the guidance trajectory of unaccompanied refugee minors

01 January 2022 → 31 December 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Discourse analysis
    • Sociolinguistics
    • Translation and interpretation sciences
  • Social sciences
    • Ethnicity and migration studies
Language and guardianship
Project description

Language and multilingualism play a critical role in asylum and refugee encounters. Sociolinguistic and interpreting research on multilingual service provision has demonstrated how issues of voice and linguistic-narrative inequality are part of the everyday experience of migrants and refugees because they often do not get the language support they are entitled to. While considerable research has been conducted on the multilingual challenges and needs of adult migrants and refugees, there has been no systematic analysis of the impact of linguistic diversity on the communication with unaccompanied refugee minors (UAM). The envisaged research project sets out to fill this gap by conducting a sociolinguistic ethnography of the ways in which linguistic diversity and multilingualism are interactionally managed in the guidance trajectory of UAM, with a specific focus on the interaction between UAM and legal guardians. Drawing on qualitative and participatory research methods, the project will examine the different multilingual strategies (dialogic and triadic) selected by UAM and their guardians and the impact these choices have on (a) disclosure and performance of personal experiences, (b) negotiation of complex procedural knowledge and (c) building of a relationship of trust, with a view to increasing scientific knowledge of the interactional management of these encounters and improving the quality of guidance and care of UAM.