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Asylum, Welfare and the Cosmopolitan Ideal: A Sociology of Rights puts forward the argument that rights must be understood as part of a social process: a terrain for strategies of inclusion and exclusion but also of contestation and negotiation. Engaging debate about how `cosmopolitan' principles and practices may be transforming national sovereignty, Lydia Morris explores this premise through a case study of legal activism, civil society mobilisation, and judicial decision-making. The book documents government attempts to use destitution as a deterrent to control asylum numbers, and examines a series of legal challenges to this policy, spanning a period both before and after the Human Rights Act. Lydia Morris shows how human rights can be used as a tool for radical change, and in so doing proposes a multi-layered 'model' for understanding rights. This incorporates political strategy, public policy, civil society mobilisation, judicial decision-making, and their public impact, and advances a dynamic understanding of rights as part of the recurrent encounter between principles and politics. Rights are therefore seen as both a social product and a social force.
Lydia Morris is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and a member of the Human Rights Centre.