The Moral Economy of Suffering: Social Exchange Among Iraqi Refugees in the Danish Welfare State

Publikation: Bog/antologi/rapport/Ph.d. afhandlingPh.d. afhandlingForskningpeer review


This study concerns people who fled Iraq and came to Denmark as refugees, most of them victims of torture and state violence. On the basis of three months of ethnographic fieldwork in a rehabilitation centre for torture victims, followed by ten months of ethnographic fieldwork among Iraqi associations and families, the thesis presents the perspective of Iraqi families, trying to make a living in Denmark, and struggling with fellow Iraqis and local authorities for recognition of their suffering.

The thesis aims at providing a nuanced understanding of the suffering of Iraqi refugees in Denmark. In contrast to approaches, which relate to the suffering of individual refugees, this study approaches suffering as a relational and social matter. Among other things this involves examining the quest of Iraqis for recognition of suffering as a social value that enters social exchange.

When Iraqi refugges in Denmark negotiate with institutions of the Danish welfare state certain kinds of suffering are recognised, while others are neglected, producing a disarticulation between service providers and Iraqi clients. By insisting on a notion of suffering as politically informed and resulting from social relations of dominance, Iraqi refugees challenge the project of the welfare state in minimising and alleviating human suffering.
Antal sider227
StatusUdgivet - 2006


  • interkulturelle forhold
  • integration