False refugees? Labelling practices towards asylum seekers at the border - The following article aims at defining, on a theoretical basis, who is a refugee from a strictly sociological perspective, working along the lines of the Labelling Theory as it has been traced by Zetter (1991, 2007). On the empirical side, observing the interaction between asylum seekers and border police officers in an international airport, the analysis wants to demonstrate the importance of status definition and recognition practices in shaping asylum seekers’ social identity and behavior. The widespread bias against the asylum seekers fosters the construction of a label with which they are associated. This label is, in turn, used by police officers, who ac-cuse asylum seekers of being "fake" refugees. Consequently, the latter result as the imagined product of a prismatic and fuzzy mix of stereotypical paradigms. Finally, in light of this analysis we will introduce, from a general perspective, the conse-quences of this labeling process. We will point out how this labeling process shapes asylum policies concerning border crossing, the legal status recognition process (noting a growing rate of denials of the refugee status on the basis of the Geneva Convention, replaced by new forms of Temporary and Humanitarian Pro-tection), and the allocation of resources (more and more dependent on non-state charitable organizations).
Keywords: Asylum seekers, fake refugees, labeling, border.