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Symbolic Laws, Street-Level Actors: Everyday Bordering in Dutch Participation Declaration Workshops



This chapter considers the ‘local turn’ in the governance of migration and the politics of bordering by focusing on Participation Declaration workshops in the Netherlands. This country has long been a forerunner in using civic integration as a means of in- and exclusion, and recently obliged certain groups of newcomers to sign a Declaration stating that they know and will respect the ‘values and rules’ of Dutch society. In investigating how local authorities differ in their interpretation of this deeply symbolic law, the article analyses: (1) the governance assemblage responsible for local workshops; (2) the key role of street-level actors and their personal backgrounds in shaping them; and (3) how street-level actors use the workshops to convey pragmatic over more principled and value-laden understandings of citizenship.


  • Human rights
  • Integration
  • Refuge