Migrants and solidarities: Negotiating deservingness in welfare micropublics

It explores the fundamental question of who is, and who is not, considered deserving of welfare services, how deservingness is negotiated and with what implications, in a context of increasing diversity driven by migration, welfare restructuring, and austerity. Such negotiations serve to draw boundaries between those migrants who have access to the support and services of the welfare state, or are believed to have access, and those who are excluded, e.g. because they are deemed as ‘not belonging’ or are seen as responsible for their own neediness.

Setting out from the understanding that solidarities are imagined and practiced in diverse ways, Solidarities explores emerging forms of conviviality, friction and contestation. Variation will be made visible and comparable by exploring how solidarities are informed by different constellations of welfare and migration regimes, in both urban areas and rural / small towns with varying degrees of diversity and migrant settlement. Our multi-sited ethnography in Denmark, Sweden, and the UK will focus on six welfare micropublics, local spaces where entitlements to support and services are negotiated.

We focus on how deservingness is constituted according to migrants’ generational status e.g., as children, working-age adults, or elders; and according to spatial dimensions of the neighbourhood where migrants settle e.g., in private, public or social housing; in major cities or in rural areas; together with, or apart from, majority populations. We aim for a deep and nuanced understanding of how deservingness is negotiated, and how different forms of solidarities are practiced,in encounters between migrants, frontline government workers, and advocates who offer and provide support for migrants.

Solidarities is characterised by a commitment to promoting dialogue, reflection, and mutual learning. The project brings together an international team of anthropologists and sociologists with an expert Academic Advisory Board and key stakeholder representatives. Results will be disseminated through scientific publications, stakeholder reports, a documentary film, exhibit, and a multi-media website, contributing fresh insights to public debates on deservingness, welfare, and migration.


Thomas Jacobsson

Thomas Jacobsson

Senior Adviser