We deploy a novel and radical approach to vulnerability theory to investigate Scotland's response to asylum seekers’ vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic and test Scotland's self-affirmation as a hospitable country. Our ethical vulnerability analysis enhances Fineman's vulnerability analysis by denationalising the vulnerable subject and locating her within our ‘uneven globalised world’. We further enrich this fuller version of vulnerability analysis with insights from Levinas's and Derrida's radical vulnerability theory and ethics of hospitality. We demonstrate how our ethical vulnerability analysis enables us to subvert the hostile premise of migration laws and policies, and thus fundamentally redefine relationships between guests and hosts so that the host is compelled to respond to the Other's vulnerability. We argue that this hospitable impulse yields a generous and absolute commitment to progressive social welfare provision for asylum seekers, which brings Scotland closer to fulfilling its aspirations to be a hospitable host by welcoming the Other.


This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

da Lomba, S. & Vermeylen, S. 2022, 'Unconditional hospitality in times of Covid-19: rethinking social welfare provisions for asylum seekers in Scotland through ethical vulnerability analysis', International Journal of Law in Context. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1744552322000192

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Last updated: 17 May 2024
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