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Lecture | LIMS seminar

Embedded Bureaucrats and Refugee Integration: How Do Local Bureaucrats’ Social Ties to Host Communities Facilitate Service Provision to Refugees

Wednesday 29 May 2024
Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars 2023-2024
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room (2.60)


Why do only some bureaucrats use discretion in favor of refugees? In search of an answer to this question, most literature focuses on bureaucrats’ attitudes toward refugees or their motivations for service provision. Yet, even when bureaucrats have positive attitudes toward incomers and the right motivation to start inclusive services, they may face legal and political barriers working against their plans and intentions. Enforcing inclusive policies for immigrants and refugees is often a politically loaded decision that inherits political and legal risks for bureaucrats and their organizations.
This paper highlights two factors that heighten local bureaucrats’ ability to use discretion in favor of refugees living in their localities: the strategic role of mid-level bureaucrats in local bureaucracies and their social ties with the communities they serve. Based on case studies of three district-level local municipalities in Istanbul, this paper shows that mid-level bureaucrats who are embedded in the local communities they serve are more likely to be able to initiate service provision for incoming refugees in their localities because thanks to their mid-level rank in their organization and close social ties with the local host community they can defy political and public backlash against their services and immigrants and refugees in general and navigate the potential risks of making decisions that could be considered legally ambiguous and perhaps illegal.


The Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS) aim at fostering further discussion across disciplines on migration-related topics and creating an open dialogue between the speakers and the attendees. The seminars are a platform for those at Leiden University working on migration-related topics. LIMS is associated with Social Citizenship & Migration (SCM), one of nine interdisciplinary programmes launched by Leiden University in 2020.

Interested in attending? Registration is not necessary. For inquires, or to participate in future events, contact Dr. Andrew Shield.

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