Paper short abstract:
The presented example of a neighbourhood counseling in Germany is selected to show that between the poles of 'exclusion from' and 'inclusion in' a society there is a large gray area, in which ascription of ethnic differences affect these processes in relatively unpredictable and ambiguous ways.
Paper long abstract:
Street-level bureaucrats, like employees of the youth welfare office, mediate aspects of citizenship in their daily practices. The presented example of a neighbourhood counseling shows that between the poles of 'exclusion from' and 'inclusion in' a society there is a large gray area, in which ascription of ethnic differences affect these processes in relatively unpredictable and ambiguous ways. This gray area, nevertheless, is important to develop a deeper understand of how race and ethnicity articulate to different social contexts and how it practically influences the citizenship rights of the involved persons.
Empirically it is shown that in the context of the youth welfare office ethnicity cannot be understand as isolated factor but is always part of larger configurations of differences. In order to understand how it operates, it is important to examine the interaction with more formalised and more legitimate categories. Moreover it can be shown that startegies of ethnic othering have an important function for closing administrative procedures in relation to the complexity of the diverse social environment in which the neighbourhood counselling centre is situated. Under the conditions of relatively limited resources, social workers have to apply relatively standardised administrative procedures and social work programs on a very heterogeneous population. In this respect the interpretation of administrative discretion often follows the pragmatic interests of maintaining these procedures and limiting the effort which is invested in a single case.
One face, one race? Rethinking race and citizenship in a changing Europe