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Deserving of social support? Street-level bureaucrats’ decisions on EU migrants’ benefit claims in Germany

Ratzmann, Nora (2021) Deserving of social support? Street-level bureaucrats’ decisions on EU migrants’ benefit claims in Germany. Social Policy and Society, 20 (3). 509 - 520. ISSN 1474-7464

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S1474746421000026

Abstract

Migration raises the question of how street-level bureaucrats treat non-citizens when it comes to the distribution of limited welfare resources. Based on a German case study, this article reveals how local social administrators rationalise practices of inclusion in and exclusion from social assistance receipt and associated labour market integration services for mobile EU citizens, who are perceived first and foremost as ‘foreigners’. The findings from fifty-five qualitative interviews with job centre representatives show how politics of exclusion are justified by nationalistic and ethnic criteria of membership. Insofar as EU migrants are considered outsiders to the imagined welfare community of their host country, they are seen as less deserving than German-born claimants. However, mobile EU citizens can earn their legitimacy to access benefit receipt through sustained participation in the host society, demonstrating knowledge of the German language and societal norms so as to appear ‘German’. Such a cultural performance-based logic of deservingness tends to be intertwined with nationality-based and racialising stereotypes of welfare fraud to frame exclusionary practice.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/social-pol...
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2021 15:21
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 02:46
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/109803

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