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Irrational rationalities and governmentality-effected neglect in immigration practice: legal migrants' entitlements to services and benefits in the United Kingdom

Oliver, C; (2020) Irrational rationalities and governmentality-effected neglect in immigration practice: legal migrants' entitlements to services and benefits in the United Kingdom. British Journal of Sociology , 71 (1) pp. 96-111. 10.1111/1468-4446.12720. Green open access

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Abstract

Governments’ attempts to manage immigration increasingly restrict immigrants’ eligibility to healthcare, education, and welfare benefits. This article examines the operation of these restrictions in the United Kingdom. It draws on qualitative research with civil servants and NGO expert advisors, and applies sociological theories on bureaucracy as a lens to interpret these data. Conceptually, the paper employs a generative synthesis of Ritzer’s notion of “irrational rationality” and Foucault’s perspective on “governmentality” to explain observed outcomes. Findings show that public service workers struggle with complex and opaque regulations, which grant different entitlements to different categories of migrants. The confusion results in mistakes, arbitrary decisions, and hypercorrection, but also a system‐wide indifference to irrational outcomes, supported by human factors in contexts of austerity. I consider this a form of governmentality‐effected neglect, where power operates as much through inaction as well as through intention, but which results in exclusions of legal migrants that are harsher in practice than in law.

Type: Article
Title: Irrational rationalities and governmentality-effected neglect in immigration practice: legal migrants' entitlements to services and benefits in the United Kingdom
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12720
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12720
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086102
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