Asylum, Welfare and the Cosmopolitan Ideal: A Sociology of Rights, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Asylum, Welfare and the Cosmopolitan Ideal

A Sociology of Rights, 1st Edition

By Lydia Morris


176 pages

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Asylum, Welfare and the Cosmopolitan Ideal: A Sociology of Rights puts forward the argument that rights must be understood as part of a social process: a terrain for strategies of inclusion and exclusion but also of contestation and negotiation. Engaging debate about how ‘cosmopolitan’ principles and practices may be transforming national sovereignty, Lydia Morris explores this premise through a case study of legal activism, civil society mobilisation, and judicial decision-making. The book documents government attempts to use destitution as a deterrent to control asylum numbers, and examines a series of legal challenges to this policy, spanning a period both before and after the Human Rights Act. Lydia Morris shows how human rights can be used as a tool for radical change, and in so doing proposes a multi-layered 'model' for understanding rights. This incorporates political strategy, public policy, civil society mobilisation, judicial decision-making, and their public impact, and advances a dynamic understanding of rights as part of the recurrent encounter between principles and politics. Rights are therefore seen as both a social product and a social force.


'Lydia Morris is that rarity in academe, a first class sociologist with a strong grasp of law and no fear of legal jargon. All her skills are on display in this excellent and important work.'

Conor Gearty, Professor of Law, London School of Economics

'In this major contribution to debates on the implementation of universal human rights, Professor Morris provides a thoroughgoing analysis of the way in which the status of asylum seekers in Britain has been shaped by the interplay between government policies, the judgements of the courts, and civic activism. The work not only deals with a topic of widespread public interest, but also provides an important new perspective on the dynamics of civic stratification.'

David Lockwood, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex

'Lydia Morris has made an important contribution to the growing body of literature on contemporary migration and asylum policy particularly in relation to the ways in which migrants' rights have become stratified.'

Rosemary Sales, Journal of Social Policy, Volume 41/1 - 2011

Table of Contents

1. The Right to Have Rights: Fond Illusion or Credo for Our Times? 2. Asylum Immigration and the Art of Government 3. Welfare Asylum and the Politics of Judgment 4. Civil Society and Civil Repair 5. An Emergent Cosmopolitan Paradigm? 6. Civic Stratification and the Cosmopolitan Ideal 7. Cosmopolitanism Human Rights and Judgment 8. Conclusion: A Sociology of Rights

About the Author

Lydia Morris is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and a member of the Human Rights Centre.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Civil Rights
LAW / Comparative
LAW / Emigration & Immigration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Civics & Citizenship
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Emigration & Immigration