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Securitisation, economisation and the political constitution of temporary migration: the making of the Austrian seasonal workers scheme

Kenneth Horvath


Temporary migration has recently received considerable attention from migration researchers. This article shifts the analytic focus from migration practices to migration politics and enquires into the logics and processes underlying the formulation of temporary migration programmes. Based on Foucault’s analysis of liberal governmentality and Jessop’s strategic-relational approach, it is argued that the governing of temporary labour migration by nation-states requires sophisticated political technologies. These technologies entail the differentiated deprivation of fundamental rights and are therefore neither unproblematic nor self-evident. Developing and establishing the necessary legal categorisations along skill levels, nationality, employment status, and so on, requires a complex interplay of two political rationalities that are often conceived of as contradictory: the securitisation and the economisation of migration. Once established, differentiations and measures introduced under securitised conditions can be invested in utilitarian migration policies. The interplay of these two rationalities depends on and is mediated by wider political-economic and societal transformation processes. This general argument is illustrated by the example of the Austrian Seasonal Worker Scheme, which shows significant parallels to policies introduced in other nation-states over the past two decades.


temporary migration; securitisation; economisation; strategic-relational approach; liberal governmentality; Austria

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