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Publikationstyp: Sammelbandbeitrag

Caught between the local and the (trans)national: A street-level analysis of EU migrants' access to social benefits in German job centres

AutorInnen: Ratzmann, Nora Publikationsjahr: 2022

Immigration fundamentally challenges the social contract of European welfare states, which is based on the idea of redistribution within a closed, nationally-bound community of welfare. Against this backdrop, this chapter explores how local social administrators deal with the challenges of solidarity and fairness within an increasingly culturally diverse society when legal entitlements remain ambiguous. This chapter approaches the question through a detailed examination of the German case, as the country constitutes one of Europe’s ethnically most diverse countries. The study is based on over 100 in-depth qualitative interviews with local social administrators, migrant claimants and welfare advisors and explores the inequalities in access when claiming welfare benefits and associated services in local job centres. The findings point to three dominant styles of decision-making, namely generous, restrictive or indifferent gatekeeping based on nationality and perceived belonging of a claimant. Street-level bureaucrats informally, yet systematically, sort benefit claimants, with non-nationals more likely to being subject to administrative discretion that creates barriers to receiving benefits in practice. The findings show how street-level practices affect possibilities for social and economic inclusion and exclusion regardless of Germany's manifest legal obligations to EU citizens. Thus, the study constitutes an original contribution to the workings of the contemporary German social assistance system alongside wider debates about migration, street-level bureaucracy and allied notions of deservingness, reciprocity, and belonging.

ISBN: 978-1-4473-6579-2
Ratzmann,Nora (2022): Caught between the local and the (trans)national: A street-level analysis of EU migrants' access to social benefits in German job centres. In: Jolly, Andy; Cefalo, Ruggero; Pomati, Marco (Hg.): Social Policy Review 34: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2022. Policy Press, 113-133.