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Based on UK fieldwork in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool and London, the paper explores the impacts of asylum-seeker dispersal on the formation of refugee community organizations (RCOs). An outline of policy precedes discussion which demonstrates how dispersal has consolidated a solid core of established RCOs in London, whilst stimulating a regional periphery of volatile semi-secure and insecure RCOs competing for shrinking financial support. The main part of the paper challenges the prevailing paradigm of RCOs as formally constituted organizations of social capital which crucially mediate the process of integration. This traditional role and rationale has been sacrificed for largely short-term, defensive tasks in a hostile policy environment. Despite their proliferation, RCOs resist institutionalization within both the state apparatus and their community networks.

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Journal article


Oxford University Press

Publication Date



40 (2)


169 - 181