On reading non-participation as refusal


  • Kahina Meziant CUNY, The Graduate Center


Within the UK (the United Kingdom) charity sector, challenges persist in involving asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees in shaping services aimed at supporting and facilitating their everyday experiences. In that context, the study reframes non-participation as refusals of two kinds: noncompliance and departure. It challenges traditional participation models by exposing non-participation as a form of non-explicit agency for marginalised people. Looking at refusals though the lens of a two-year immersive study involving institutional ethnography and participatory research, it emphasises nuanced micropolitical dynamics in a charity supporting migrants and refugees’ ‘integration’ in a city of Northeast England. By examining and reinterpreting what stands behind people’s non-participation, the paper argues that the charity’s engagement with its internal politics and social dynamics is essential if it wants to foster active participation. It suggests these insights can uncover participation paradoxes and offer alternative engagement approaches. Ultimately, the research illuminates the gap between organizational intent and outcomes, contributing to debates on migration, critical humanitarianism and charity, as well as participation.

How to Cite

Meziant, K. (2023). On reading non-participation as refusal. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 201(2), 243–252. https://doi.org/10.11143/fennia.126844