Deserving of Social Support? Street-Level Bureaucrats’ Decisions on EU Migrants’ Benefit Claims in Germany
AutorInnen: Ratzmann, Nora Publikationsjahr: 2021
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.
Keywords: EU social citizenship; policy implementation; street-level bureaucracy; deservingness; belongingdoi: 10.1017/S1474746421000026 ISSN: 1475-3073 Open Access