When asylum policies go local : the case of socially-useful works for asylum-seekers

The local sphere of asylum policy, during the refugee crisis, became a key area of intervention for local governments. The existing literature on the topic has largely neglected the role of political affiliation in local asylum policy-making and the implications for policy implementation of mayors’ subjective understandings and decision-making. The article in open access by Andrea Pettrachin ‘When asylum policies go local : the case of socially-useful works for asylum-seekers’ in Italian political science review aims to fill these gaps by focusing on the case of ‘socially useful works’ (SUW) for asylum-seekers, a local policy that was defined as the Italian way to deal with the reception and integration of asylum-seekers. The article first analyses the outputs of this policy, assessing which local governments developed SUW policies, what types of measures were implemented and with what policy goals. Second, by applying insights from Weick’s sensemaking approach and relying on semi-structured interviews conducted in the Veneto region, it develops an account that analyses how and why these measures were adopted. The analysis concludes, first, that mayors’ party affiliations are a strong predictor of how SUW policies are (or are not) implemented. Second, it shows that mayors are not mere passive implementers: they adapt state-level guidelines to their own aims in ways that powerfully shape policy implementation and its outcomes. Third, the article shows how decisions about the implementation of SUW policies are significantly influenced by the mayors’ diverse interpretations of the many anti-migrant protests against asylum-seekers, and by different identity processes, past experiences and social relations.

This article is part of the ERC project ‘MIGPROSP – Prospects for International Migration Governance’ (ERC FP-7/2007-2013, Grant Agreement No 340430).

Other article from the same author: Opening the ‘Black Box’ of asylum governance : decision-making and the politics of asylum policy-making (talian political science review ; Rivista italiana di scienza politica, 2019, OnlineFirst)