Daniel Hedlund. Foto: Niklas Björling

Daniel Hedlund


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Law
Telephone 08-674 72 34
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 C
Room C 718
Postal address Juridiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Daniel Hedlund, Thomas Wimark. The Journal of Refugee Studies

    This study explores the asylum claims of unaccompanied children concerning sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and examines how case officers at the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) responded to the credibility of their claims. The SMA provided one calendar year of asylum decisions concerning unaccompanied children, and 16 SOGI cases were identified. A thematic analysis of the cases was conducted. The results showed that case officers directed their focus to the quality of the children’s sexual relationships. This indicates that the case officers expect children to engage in long-term relationships similar to adults, despite their age. Furthermore, case officers tended to only render narratives credible if the society as whole was narrated as perpetrators. This indicates that case officers expect origin societies to be monolithic. The main conclusion, therefore, is that case officers are guided both by homonormative as well as homonationalist views in their decision-making process.

  • 2019. Daniel Hedlund. Barn, migration och integration i en utmanande tid, 107-126

    Det här kapitlet belyser godmanskapet för ensamkommande barn och utgör en översikt av regelverket som styr godmanskapet i Sverige och den forskning som finns på området, både internationellt och nationellt. Regelverket som grundläggs i lag (2005:429) om god man för ensamkommande barn (LGEB) är utgångspunkten för genomgången, men godmanskapet blir därtill placerat i ett vidare sammanhang. Ambitionen är att synliggöra dilemman som kan uppstå i förhållande till överförmyndarens rekrytering och tillsyn av gode män samt relationen mellan gode män och deras huvudmän, det vill säga ensamkommande barn. Sex dilemman identifieras. Det handlar om 1) vad barnet ska ha rätt till utöver skydd mot rättsförluster, 2) gränserna för den gode mannens uppdrag i praktiken, 3) överförmyndarens kvalitativa bedömning i rekryteringen av gode män, 4) barnets möjlighet att yttra sig när en god man utses, 5) riskerna för negativ särbehandling genom att gode män för ensamkommande barn regleras genom speciallagstiftning, samt 6) balansen mellan intentioner att skydda ensamkommande barn ”som grupp” och deras skiftande individuella behov, där särskilt det senare ställer krav på den gode mannens kompetens. Kapitlet avslutas med att lyfta frågan om hur godmanskapet och dess förutsättningar och dilemman kan relateras till integration.

  • 2018. Daniel Hedlund, Lisa Salmonsson. The International Journal of Children's Rights 26 (3), 489-509

    In this paper we explore the research literature relating to the guardianship of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. In particular, we seek to find out what type of dilemmas have been identified by research concerning the guardianship of unaccompanied minors, and the focus that the literature has therefore taken. A comprehensive search of identified databases was conducted. Ultimately, 38 publications were selected for analysis. The review was qualitative and inductive. The results of the review suggest that research has identified and focused on challenges in the form of diverging policy such as gaps and inconsistencies in guardianship institutions, as well as challenges in balancing different objectives concerning the guardianship role, such as conflicting interest in the guardianship assignment or between different actors involved in protecting the child’s interest.The conclusion is that different configurations of guardianship institutions, as well as the identified challenges for practice, appear to be related to the welfare state model. Therefore, future research concerning guardianship for unaccompanied minors needs to move beyond legal sources and policy documents by focusing on empirically informed research on the relationship between child care/protection, principles of assessing the best interest of the child and the welfare state systems.

  • 2018. Daniel Hedlund.
  • 2018. Lisa Salmonsson, Daniel Hedlund. Journal of Human Rights Practice 10 (3), 524-535

    This policy note highlights issues concerning the right to seek asylum raised by a panel of migration experts in Sweden during the annual Swedish Forum for Human Rights in 2016. The discussion took place following Swedish asylum and immigration policy taking an increasingly restrictive turn. Two main themes are identified. The first theme encompasses views on the relationship between the legal framework’s increased restrictiveness and discourses of securitization and explores the possibilities of moving beyond this pattern. The second theme highlights that different professionals and other staff engaged with asylum seekers and refugees can retain a (legal) space to resist repressive activities that challenge their professional code of conduct and personal integrity.

  • 2017. Daniel Hedlund. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care 13 (2), 157-172


    The purpose of this paper is to explore the key credibility principles used by Migration Agency case-officers in Sweden. More specifically it analyses how they construct arguments about asylum-seeking unaccompanied minors’ credibility in first-decisions.


    The study is inspired by a social constructionist approach to discourse and explore how case-officers construct legally legitimate arguments about credibility. The qualitative text analysis is focused on discursive practice. The data selected for analysis consists of 827 excerpts containing case-officers’ credibility reasoning deducted from a sample of 916 decisions.


    The main finding is that case-officers question unaccompanied minors by using argumentative techniques in which children appear to be expected to deliver detailed and coherent accounts. In addition, unaccompanied minors’ knowledge-claims can be questioned regardless of decision outcome (rejection or approval). As unaccompanied minors’ claims for asylum appear to be questioned in such an extensive manner, their humanitarian claims also seem to be reduced. The findings of this study suggest that there is a risk that the possibility to be understood as a legitimate asylum seeker, worthy of residency, can be restricted for unaccompanied minors.

    Practical implications

    The findings indicate that when case-officers base their understanding of credibility on unaccompanied children’s individual life experiences they make use of a limited repertoire of arguments.


    This study contributes to insights about how case-officers fulfil legal expectations when assessing unaccompanied minors’ credibility. The findings can be of interest to both legal and social science as well policy planners and immigration practitioners.

  • 2017. Thomas Wimark, Daniel Hedlund. Sociologisk forskning 54 (1-2), 69-90

    In this study we study how homosexuality has legally gone from exclusion to inclusion in migration law and what ideological understandings that underpin this inclusion. The data corpus of the study consisted of the preparatory work concerning same-sex sexuality, cohabitation and migration. Data was coded for patterns concerning the public administrative understandings of same-sex sexuality as described in the preparatory works. The coding was theoretically driven by critical and Marxist approaches to ideology. Conducting a thematic analysis, four themes were identified in the data. The overall finding is that the preparatory works give precedence to sexuality in terms of disposition (läggning) when it is linked to identity and intensions to engage in a long-term relationship. This means that alternative sexual identities and practices not compatible with the ”heterosexual matrix” have been excluded from the ideological lens. The ideological focus in the preparatory works could be seen as a reflection of the capitalist system, where some social categories are viewed as desirable to include in a capitalist society.

  • Thesis (Doc) Drawing the limits
    2016. Daniel Hedlund (et al.).

    The overall aim of the thesis is to explore legislators’ perceptions of unaccompanied children in the development of migration law, and how case-officers transform the policy in arguments for and against residency in asylum-cases.

    More specifically, this thesis explores how Swedish legislators experienced parliamentary work when putting in place the 2005 Aliens Act and the new system for appeals and procedures. In addition, it explores legislators understanding of the concept of unaccompanied minors, and how the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) case-officers understand unaccompanied minors’ credibility. It draws on interview data with 15 legislators of the Swedish parliament and an analysis of 916 decisions in asylum cases concerning unaccompanied minors. The thesis is theoretically informed by interpretative phenomenology and social constructionism. The method used builds on detailed coding procedures in qualitative social research as they are applied in interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), thematic analysis and text analysis.

    Study 1 examines the experiences of 15 legislators when negotiating migration reform in parliament. The findings indicate that the preceding political negotiations can be one of the reasons for unclear aims when politicians’ propose new legislation. In addition, it seems that other policy areas, such as fiscal considerations and state-municipality relations, took precedence in the negotiations when the legislators were attempting to make sense of their experiences in discussing asylum policy.

    Study 2 explores legislators’ perceptions of unaccompanied minors arriving in Sweden. The findings show that chronological age is a key reference point concerning how legislators understand unaccompanied minors’ claims for asylum and other needs. In addition, the findings suggest that legislators perceive unaccompanied minors as an ambivalent category and that this understanding is influenced by deep-rooted welfare ideology. Furthermore, the findings indicate that legislators develop policy concerning unaccompanied children without considering that they need to be recognised as individuals with different backgrounds, agendas and needs.

    Study 3 scrutinises how SMA case-officers construct unaccompanied minors credibility in asylum decisions. It shows that case-officers use similar techniques both when approving and rejecting decisions. These techniques consistently question the competence and political agency of the chid in such a way that the element of individual assessment in asylum procedure can become severely restricted.

    In brief, this thesis identifies that the connection between migration and child policy is complex as legislators appear to struggle with “drawing the limits” of who to include or exclude in policy aims. Hence, the juridical field was seen as the answer to improve legitimation. This also means that the concept of asylum has become de-politicised. In addition, case-officers also seem to use a limited repertoire of arguments when drawing the limits for unaccompanied minors’ credibility in asylum decisions. This thesis points to possible dilemmas in asylum policy and procedure concerning unaccompanied minors.

  • 2016. Daniel Hedlund, Ann-Christin Cederborg, Mauro Zamboni. The Theory and Practice of Legislation 4 (1), 45-63

    We do not know enough about how legislators from different political parties make sense of their ambitions and experiences in relation to the development of asylum policy. In this study we wanted to find out how political discussions can create conditions for legislative change. The present study therefore explored how the Swedish 2005 Aliens Act and the new system for appeals and procedures (NSAP) were negotiated and perceived by 15 legislators of the parliamentary Committee on Social Insurance (COSI) that considered this new legal framework that is effective since 2006. The participants were openly interviewed about their experiences of negotiating migration policy via their committee work. The study is inspired by interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as it can reach an understanding of how research participants’ attempt to make sense of their lived experience. First, the interview transcripts were transcribed verbatim and then independently coded by the first two authors. Thereafter they collaboratively refined the themes and sub-themes and discussed them with the third author. The overall finding is that the preceding political negotiations can be one of the reasons for unclear aims when politicians’ propose new legislation. This is because directives can consist of many divergent perspectives and considerations. The specific findings are that the period under consideration was described as dramatic and stressful with the presence of uncommon political collaboration between political parties as well as the pushing of legislation via budget negotiations. In addition, they said that the suggested changes in asylum policy and implementation were mainly based on other policy aspects, such as fiscal considerations and state-municipality relations. Participants also viewed that identified problems with asylum decision-making have not been sufficiently resolved by the new framework. Even though this study was conducted in Sweden, its findings can be relevant to other political systems in more developed countries as these states also can struggle with contradictory aims with asylum policy.

  • Chapter "Beard boys"
    2015. Daniel Hedlund. Invisible Boy, 83-94

    In this chapter the thought-construct of skäggbarn [”beard children”] or, sometimes also skäggpojkar [”beard boys”], is explored. It constitutes a distinct form of hate speech, targeted against unaccompanied refugee minors in Sweden, and finds its outlet particularly on far-right internet sites (Hirvonen, 2013). By taking a cue from psychoanalysis and its two-way perspective on both inner world and society (Clarke, 2003), the meaning of facial hair in relation to the “racial” Other is interrogated as an example of how racist fantasies and caricatures can emerge. The analysis herein presented describes in what ways the Others, the “beard boys/children”, are degraded, as they come to represent an obstruction that frustrates one’s possible self belonging to a unified society. 

  • 2015. Daniel Hedlund, Ann-Christin Cederborg. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care 11 (4), 239-252

    Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to explore how individual legislators perceive unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, their life situation, needs and best interests.

    Design/methodology/approach– The total number of participants were 15. Thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) was used in order to identify and analyze patterns in the interview data. The authors focused on their responses to the questions about the best interest of the child in migration policy and practice, and how this principle was related to unaccompanied children seeking asylum.

    Findings– The main finding is that chronological age becomes a key sign for how legislators understand the life situation, needs and best interests of unaccompanied children. Also, the findings from this study suggest that the moralizing welfare ideology of the past is still present in political discourse and social planning, construing unaccompanied minors as an ambivalent category between civilization and savagery. The findings from this study indicate that legislators enact reforms of importance for unaccompanied children without considering them as agents of their own future, with their own motives and reasons to seek asylum.

    Practical implications– The findings from this study indicate a need to adapt the understanding of the existing Aliens Act (SFS 2005:716) to the knowledge that unaccompanied minors need to be assessed on their own terms.

    Originality/value– This study contributes to increasing the understanding about how the subjective values of legislators may have influenced migration reform in Sweden that can be valuable to both legal and social research, as well as policy planners.

  • 2014. Daniel Hedlund. Barnperspektiv i socialtjänstens arbete, 71-102
  • 2012. Daniel Hedlund. Locus 24 (1-2), 28-47
  • 2018. Lisa Salmonsson, Daniel Hedlund.

    In this paper, we draw on discussions from a panel talk of migration experts about the new restrictive turn in Swedish migration policy following the ”refugee situation” in 2015, and a forthcoming review of the international literature about guardianship for unaccompanied minors.

    The results from the panel provided insights about how discourses of securitzation translate into practice and the potential to move beyond this pattern. There seem to be several different strategies assumed by grassroot activists to counter this tendency, but this issue also seem to concern professionals and other staff engaged with asylum seekers and refugees. It appears that the latter group can retain a (legal) space to resist repressive activities that challenge their professional ethics and personal integrity, and still working ”within” the welfare system.

    Linking this the issue of grassroot activism and street-level work to the guardianship for unaccompanied children seeking asylum, which in the Swedish case involves layman guardians appointed locally, we explore the increased temporality influencing the conditions for individuals representing children with an ”unclear” legal status in relation to the the dual (care and restrictive) ”nature” of welfare state actors (e.g. Social Services, Chief Guardian Board, Migration Agency).

  • 2019. Daniel Hedlund. Nordisk socialrättslig tidskrift 9 (19-20), 139-143
  • 2016. Daniel Hedlund.
  • 2015. Daniel Hedlund.
  • 2019. Daniel Hedlund.
  • 2019. Daniel Hedlund.

    Previous research has offered that the construction of the asylum-seeking child is complex as it unites children (predominantly understood as passive) with immigration (agency). Research has also argued that the principles prescribed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are not sufficiently implemented by states in asylum procedure. As a point of departure, this presentation views children's rights as human rights, and that "children's rights" analysis can be strengthened by further theoretization.The main argument of the presentation is that there is a strong link between the human rights of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and the concept of dignity, understood here as the possibility of self-determination in practice.The presentation draws on a two larger research projects about unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy. The projects have analyzed interview data about the perceived life conditions of unaccompanied minors collected from members of parliament, public servants, unaccompanied minors and their guardians. The projects have also examined asylum decisions issued by the Swedish Migration Agency concerning unaccompanied minors' credibility. Overall, the results indicate that the asylum claims of unaccompanied minors are questioned to an extensive degree, although balanced to some extent by general intentions to protect "all" children, and that the perceptions about quality in asylum reception appears to be shaped by fiscal considerations. As the results are based on research conducted both at the level of parliament as well as including "street-level bureaucracy", and the minors themselves, the findings can be used to explore the social and legal mechanisms influencing the political, social, cultural, and economic rights of unaccompanied minors in practice. These mechanisms, in turn, seem to be conditioning the dignity of unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy and procedure.

  • 2019. Daniel Hedlund. Ensamkommandes upplevelser & professionellas erfarenheter, 215-230
Show all publications by Daniel Hedlund at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 17, 2019

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