Shaping migration at the border: the entangled rationalities of border control practices

Christin Achermann
2021 Comparative Migration Studies  
This article analyses how border guards as members of a state organisation shape the movement of non-nationals into the territory of a nation state. Based on ethnographic fieldwork on the Swiss Border Guard (SBG), it explores the rationalities-understood as stabilised ways of reasoning and acting-that characterise practices within this state organisation. Combining organisational and structuration theory with a street-level bureaucracy perspective allows for a differentiated analysis of the
more » ... ous facets of border guards' everyday work. Four rationalities of border-control practices are identified and compared: security, humanitarian, cost-calculation, and pragmatic rationality. I argue that, by considering both the specific goals and imperatives of border control and the characteristics of street-level bureaucrats acting within a state organisation, these entangled logics explain the complex and incoherent social reality of border control. More generally, the results contribute to organisational theory by pointing to the importance of taking into account that multiple entangled rationalities structure the practices of an organisation's members.
doi:10.1186/s40878-020-00214-0 pmid:33619453 pmcid:PMC7890786 fatcat:lhnqfzt74zazhgbm3yxdzthsn4