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The idea that refugees should be grateful is pervasive in popular culture and is also evident in political theory, most notably in discussing whether refugees have an obligation to obey the law in their state of asylum. We examine the normative argument that refugees have a duty to be grateful to their host society, arguing that when the workings of the system of refugee protection are examined, it becomes clear that no such duty exists. Our main concern is that state-imposed barriers and hardships that refugees must endure to access asylum undermine any gratitude to the asylum state. Indeed, if any gratitude duties are owed by refugees, it is to those social actors who help them evade state restrictions. We conclude by suggesting that, once we take account of those features, resentment rather than gratitude often seems a more apt response by refugees to their asylum state.

Original publication




Journal article


Sage Journals

Publication Date