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The ’blue berry scandal' of 2010: Local Swedish welfare-state responses to seasonal migrant berry-pickers in distress
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The ‘blue berry scandal’ of 2010. Local Swedish welfare-state responses to seasonal migrant berry pickers in distress


The berry picking season of 2010 ended up in a social tragedy which caused world wide attention. This is a case study on welfare-state responses, to Asian migrant berry pickers stranded in four municipalities in Sweden. The aim is to investigate the local welfare-state responses to and positioning of distressed berry pickers analyzed within a framework of intersecting migration- and welfare-regimes. How were welfare entitlements to (if any) and the political subjectivity of the berry pickers negotiated and practiced? How did the institutional practices position the berry pickers?Qualitative interviews were conducted of local politicians and social workers, a total number of 30 individuals.

Findings; The berry pickers’ positions were shaped by the interplay of migration policy and welfare state practices.To some extent, local authorities supported the migrant workers temporarily. But in all cases the authorities did not anchoar the support in national law (not even in case of lawful practices), neither did they refer to universal conventions. Some of the local authorities rejected support referring to the clandestine position or non-citizenship of the berry pickers. Results indicates that migrant berry pickers are positioned in a grey zone of social rights as non-citizens. This zone is defined by a social rights gap constructed by the welfare state practices, distributing national welfare entitlements, based on citizenship, but also managing the presumed transnational universal human rights, which is not implemented in practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79087OAI: diva2:639454
International Conference 'Migration and Democracy', Dudelange, Luxemburg 14-17 June, 2012
Available from: 2013-08-07 Created: 2013-08-07 Last updated: 2014-01-31Bibliographically approved

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Wikström, Eva
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Department of Social Work
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