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Britishness outsourced: state conduits, brokers, and the British citizenship test

Tuckett, Anna (2020) Britishness outsourced: state conduits, brokers, and the British citizenship test. Ethnos. ISSN 0014-1844

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00141844.2019.1687543


This article explores the role of two different types of organisations which act as brokers on behalf of the British state in the citizenship test process. The first are unofficial and unregulated private schools which, for a fee, offer migrants assistance in helping to prepare for the test. The second are the official test centres where the citizenship test is delivered. Situating these organisations’ emergence within a neoliberal British state characterised by its ‘dispersal’, it shows that contemporary configurations of the state, market and third sector mean that new and sometimes unexpected actors take on state-like roles. The ambiguous position of these different organisations means that while the reach of the neoliberal state is more diffuse and opaque than ever, clear boundaries between state and non-state realms do continue to exist. The brokers presented here may hold state-like roles, but their day-to-day work frequently highlights their position outside of the official realm. At times this is visible through their lack of access to key resources, which points to the state’s impenetrability and power. At others, the subtle subversion of official government messages within these organisations reveals the limits of the state’s influence. Paradoxically, therefore, the blurring of boundaries which characterises the neoliberal state is also accompanied by the hardening of borders between state and non-state realms. This reinforcement of boundaries can appear both to increase state power and to challenge it.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author(s)
Divisions: Ethnography of Advice
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JC Political theory
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 15:03
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2022 18:03

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