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Editorial: Governing the Poor – Migration and Poverty

Lisa Marie Borrelli and Yann Bochsler


In contrast to the nexus between welfare and migration control, the link between migration and poverty (or rather the perception of poverty), has not received the same amount of political interest, but also public and scholarly attention. Yet, there are multiple ways in which migrants are rendered or perceived as poor in receiving states after having migrated. Hence, this special issue addresses the intersection of migration and poverty. The contributions cover various socio-legal, political and discursive aspects of how state institutions and non-state agencies address, and how poor citizens and migrant individuals in the broadest sense deal with, precariousness and discrimination in the states where they have settled or within which they have moved. In public and political discourse, migrant individuals are often portrayed as underserving, needy and dependent on the ‘receiving states’. Yet, what is often overlooked is how this assumed dependency is constructed by policies and laws, encouraged by media practices and everyday street-level implementation, to the degree that it demonises the foreign ‘other’, accused of misusing welfare assistance. At the same time, we find similar framings regarding marginalised citizens, such as welfare recipients, which discloses the moral character of social policies and a hierarchy of deservingness-recognition. Within the special issue, we critically discuss how such representations and policy mechanisms allow for the discriminatory circumscription of rights and services of the ‘poor’ and migrants that are deeply embedded in welfare chauvinist attitudes, causing significant control and surveillance by the state.


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Published Online: 2021-02-26
Published in Print: 2020-12-16

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