Precariousness as a product of time


Based on a legal analysis combined with data obtained through a longitudinal and qualitative fieldwork, we are looking at the impact of temporal constraints imposed on migrants’ trajectories in the host country. Time functions as a disciplinary practice of the state since the temporal dimension of immigration controls is associated with bureaucratic domination (Bourdieu, 1997). As a result, law and administrative practice (institutional times) bring a temporal ordering in migrants’ life course which arguably contradicts the temporality of migrants’ trajectories and their individual experience of time. Migration politics in the host country, and migrants’ categorisation into various and predefined legal statuses, plays a direct role in creating and sustaining temporal uncertainty and instability over the future. Since migration is increasingly regulated as a temporary phenomenon, migrants find their life to be ‘on hold’ (Brekke, 2010) and they are compelled to live in the present. Being temporary affects most spheres of life and increases the risk of irregularity. Temporary residence permits and conditional stay means that migrants’ trajectories are not linear (Landolt and Goldring, 2015). As a result, we find that uncertainty as well as irregularity is part of many migrants’ experience, in parts due to waiting time, unclear deadlines (if any), grey zone in the law, etc. Moreover, temporariness is not normatively neutral (Dauvergne and Marsden, 2014). It leads to rights differentiation and differential inclusion reinforcing insecurity and inequality. Yet, migrants are not powerless facing illegality, temporariness or uncertainty, and may develop strategies to fulfil their personal aspirations and projects.


Precariousness as a product of time : extra-European adult migrants’ experiences of temporariness in Belgium


Farcy Jean Baptiste
Smit Sarah

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