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Accepted paper:

'The impossibility of being a bureaucrat' - Swiss public administration in times of austerity

Author:

Lisa Marie Borrelli (HES-SO)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that due to an expansion of migration control, targeting not only migrants with precarious legal status, today migration policies are more and more characterised by an undermining of welfare state logics and suspicion towards any migrant individual.

Paper long abstract:

Austerity politics become increasingly mundane and widely used by many European countries. Due to an expansion of migration control, targeting not only asylum seekers and those residing irregularly on the national territory within Europe, today migration policies are more and more characterised by an undermining of welfare state logics and suspicion towards any migrant individual. This paper argues that there is a political advancement within migration policies, not only targeting irregularised migrant individuals, but increasingly controlling migrant populations with more regular status, in order to investigate, test and contest their 'belonging'. More specifically, this work will present ethnographically collected data from a Swiss case study, shining light on how street-level bureaucrats reflect the reception of social assistance by migrant individuals. Through their financial dependency on the welfare state, the latter risk losing their status, due to an alleged lack of integration. A critical analysis will bring forward how this assumed 'lack of integration' is navigated and constructed by street-level bureaucrats in charge of deciding the non-prolongation or withdrawal of residence permits in Switzerland. It will disclose how migration enforcement is already ridden with tension, expressed within the agencies, between them, but also between the bureaucrat and the 'client'.

panel P079
Politicized bureaucrats in and beyond Europe: conflicting loyalties, professionalism and the law in the making of public services [LAWNET]