“They live like animals”: migrants, Roma and national populism

Eva Kourova, Stephen A. Webb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


How do social workers negotiate the difficult terrain of an emergent nationalist populism and how do they unravel the ethical and often deeply politicised dilemmas this poses in the face of insurgent far-right movements? The tensions and dilemmas are particularly acute when case working with migrants, refugees and Roma people. Here social workers are often involved in “bordering practices” and as gatekeepers faced with stark ethical dilemmas and politically nuanced tensions. Immigration raises cultural and security concerns as well as fears of economic displacement, and it weakens the legitimacy of transnational institutions This chapter shows how much of the populist hatred and violence towards Roma and migrants - a dehumanising strategy - is conveyed through visceral representations of disgust, filth and dirt. Moreover, social work as a form of negative protection is increasingly securitised and entangled with populist drives for ‘useful’ and ‘economically active’ citizenship which is prejudicially juxtaposed against images of dirty and lazy people.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Challenge of Right-wing Nationalist Populism for Social Work
Subtitle of host publicationA Human Rights Approach
EditorsCarolyn Noble, Goetz Ottmann
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780367174019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Social Work


  • social work
  • national populism
  • Roma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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