Stream 17: Street-Level Organizations and the Contested Politics and Practices of Refuge in Europe

Jonathan Miaz, Karen Breidahl and Evelyn Brodkin

Mass migrations posed a challenge to democratic states. With a rise of the number of asylum seekers in Europe in 2015 and 2016, and in the midst of anti-immigrant movements spreading across Europe, issues of refuge and border control have become politically fraught and increasingly contested. In this stream, we bring the perspective of street-level research and theory to an examination of these developments (Brodkin 2013, 2015; Lipsky 1980).

This stream seeks to facilitate a conversation among researchers interested in understanding how issues of migration and asylum take shape on the ground, mediated by the practices of street-level organizations (SLOs) that directly do the work of the state, managing mass migration and responding to appeals for refuge. Empirically and theoretically, this stream seeks to enlarge understanding of SLOs as mediators of both policies and politics (Brodkin 2013) and to explore their role in constructing the realities of asylum policy in everyday organizational life and the politics of migration and asylum, more broadly.

Toward that goal, we invite papers that examine the role and practices of varieties of SLOs that mediate migration and asylum policies and politics, including public bureaucracies and state agencies as well as civil society organizations, advocacy groups, and contracted organizations (both NGOs and for-profit firms). Among the issues of interest are:

1. the street-level operation of legal and judicial systems — investigating procedures “from within” used to investigate asylum applications and decide who can get refuge.

2. the legal and quasi-legal activities of non-state charity and activist organizations that provide advocacy, legal help, and other services to asylum seekers.

3. the arrangements for and operations of public and private organizations that receive, ‘pre-integrate,’ and in various ways “manage” migrants and asylum-seekers awaiting legal decisions and manage the detention and deportation of those who have been denied legal residency status.

4. the effects of SLOs on the lived experiences of asylum-seekers, their attitudes, well-being, integration, and “re-integration” prospects.

The stream welcomes theoretical and empirical papers alike. We especially welcome proposals for papers that:

– present new research on SLOs involved in providing for the rights, accommodation, integration, welfare, and detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

– present new research related to the interaction between SLOs and migrants and how these interactions shape their lived experience, beliefs, attitudes, and/or wellbeing.

– extend theoretical understanding of SLOs as mediators of asylum politics.

Abstracts can be submitted through the online abstract submission system: