Who are the transnationals? Institutional categories beyond “migrants”

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Talleraas, Cathrine (2019) Who are the transnationals? Institutional categories beyond “migrants”, Ethnic and Racial Studies. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1599133.

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​This article analyses the institutional categorization of people who lead transnational lives but are clients of a national welfare system. Based on institutional ethnography, the article explores the standpoint of bureaucrats who work in the Norwegian welfare system and deal with clients receiving Norwegian welfare benefits abroad. The analysis reveals an inclusive albeit ambiguous attitude towards these clients, whose cross-border living is seen as a new norm, carried out by all segments of the population. When describing people who lead transnational lives, the bureaucrats move beyond migrant labels, citing a broad array of formal and informal categories and stereotypes. The blurring conceptualization of who is considered transnational signals institutional incertitudes about how to adapt to increasing cross-border mobility. The study’s findings add substance to the plea for a “demigranticization” of migration research.

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