‘A Forest with many trees’ – Mapping the migration industry and accountabilit(ies) in Europe

This paper discusses the difficulties of attributing accountability in the management of migration in contemporary […]


This paper discusses the difficulties of attributing accountability in the management of migration in contemporary Europe.

The management of migration has traditionally been the responsibility of the state. However, we highlight how the state is a diverse assemblage of actors, characterised by constant processes of restructuring. Moreover, recent decades have witnessed reforms aimed at privatization and marketization. As a result, we can detect increasing confusion and contestation with the ascription of accountability. We also encounter more deep-seated struggles concerning the effectiveness of bureaucratic restructuring and managerial approaches within public administration. The so-termed ‘migration crisis’ has brought these problems into sharp relief, leading to discussions about how to attribute accountability in an increasingly diverse pool of actors.

We engage with this problem of accountability on two levels. First, we discuss how marketization has increased the number and type of actors who work in the management of migration- often leading to unclear structures of accountability. Second, how the common framing of migration as ‘crisis’ postpones discussions on long-term governmental solutions and enables actors to refrain from taking on accountability. Case studies of the UK, Germany, and Italy are used to highlight how the concepts of marketization and crisis have led to dispersion regarding the notion of accountability, and the impacts this has had on the macro-, meso-, and micro- levels.

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