Punishing the poor again?: irregularity, the 'criminalisation of migration' and precarious labour markets in the UK and Germany

Sitkin, L. 2014. Punishing the poor again?: irregularity, the 'criminalisation of migration' and precarious labour markets in the UK and Germany. PhD thesis University of Oxford Criminology

TitlePunishing the poor again?: irregularity, the 'criminalisation of migration' and precarious labour markets in the UK and Germany
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSitkin, L.
Abstract

The increasingly punitive nature of immigration control across the Western world and the overrepresentation of foreign nationals in European prisons has revitalised criminological interest in issues of migration. Alessandro De Giorgi (2010: 153) and others contend that restrictive, 'illegalising' immigration admission policies and 'hyper-criminalising' immigration controls create a population of migrant workers on European territory, whose legal precarity makes them ideal fodder for employment in post-Fordist neoliberal labour markets. This thesis refines the neoliberal-materialist analysis of immigration policy, as described most succinctly by De Giorgi (2010), through a comparative case study of the UK and Germany. To this end, it explores the various economic, political and cultural factors that have driven the development of a punitive regulation of immigration in the two countries and compares immigration control practices. It also examines the ways in which immigration status siphons immigrants into precarious work and how this process occurs differently in the UK and Germany. An underlying concern is to examine the extent to which differences in the underlying labour markets of the two countries, as described in Hall and Soskice's (2001) Varieties of Capitalism (VoC) typology, structure differences in the processes outlined in the neoliberal-materialist analysis. While the development of immigration controls is motivated by a wide variety of factors outside of the labour market, the fact that motivating factors are largely shared among countries of the same VoC type suggests some relationship with the underlying economic structure. In addition, the thesis argues that foreigners are vulnerable to specific forms of workplace exploitation and social marginalisation in 'coordinated' Germany because of factors associated with the VoC – a finding that also has important connotations for understanding the more intense overrepresentation of foreign nationals in German prisons. At the same time, it highlights the importance of other cultural and social factors, unique to each country, in the politics of immigration. The final section reverses the previous line of the enquiry by examining whether immigration 'neoliberalises' industrial relations in Germany. It finds that immigration's effects depend, to a significant extent, on the degree to which foreigners are constructed as precarious workers through state policy. In turn, immigration policy's wider effects on the labour market suggest native workers might also have an interest in preventing the precaritisation of their immigrant counterparts. Finally, immigration status may become less and less important in understanding the exploitation of workers in Europe, as citizenship is associated with fewer rights.

Keywordsirregular immigration, immigration control, varieties of capitalism, precarious work
Year2014
Publication dates
CompletedJun 2014

Related outputs

Coordinating internal immigration control in the UK
Sitkin, L. 2014. Coordinating internal immigration control in the UK. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies. 1 (1), pp. 39-56. doi:10.1504/IJMBS.2014.065068

The state’s contradictory response to the exploitation of immigrant workers: the UK case
Sitkin, L. 2014. The state’s contradictory response to the exploitation of immigrant workers: the UK case. in: Pickering, S. and Ham, J. (ed.) The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration Abingdon Routledge.

The Right to Walk the Streets: Looking for Illegal Migration on the Streets and Stations of the UK and Germany
Sitkin, L. 2013. The Right to Walk the Streets: Looking for Illegal Migration on the Streets and Stations of the UK and Germany. Prison Services Journal. 205, pp. 29-33.

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