Drawing on mobility beyond its spatial connotations and thinking broadly of policy, authority and governance, this panel studies how policies organising flows of people, information or resources are themselves mobilised, created, invoked or subverted by those responsible for their application.
In the particular form of the bureaucrat, studies in the social sciences have long been concerned with how those in a position of relative, direct authority over the lives of others translate, interpret and mobilise various forms of knowledge to activate or hinder the distribution of resources or status (Weber, Herzfeld, Auyero, Lipsky, Bainton et al.). Broadening the concept of mobility and breaking it off from its versions purely linked to spatial movement, we seek to address how street-level bureaucrats and public servants but also doctors, external consultants, Big Men, technicians and many others are officially or de facto directly or partially in charge of sanctioning, monitoring and deciding how resources, humans, their bodies, their status, benefits, among others, move, shift, settle or not. In this vein, this panel invites submissions that address the following questions: How do individuals inhabit the institutional position of blocking or allowing someone's or something's movement? What different kinds of knowledge do they leverage, within and outside the institutional forms, in order to decide what moves, flows and shifts and what does not? What is the role of their subjectivity and positionality in the scope and legitimacy of their decisions? Besides discretionality, what other engagements, motivations, emotions, perhaps overzealousness, indolence, compassion, meticulousness, morality, do those in charge of such decisions operate on, and to what ends? What are the politics of mobilising policies and of policies mobilisation? How do those in charge of these decisions engage with these policies and why?