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Changing the administration from within: criticism and compliance by junior bureaucrats in Niger's Refugee Directorate

Publikation: Zeitschriftenartikel (wissenschaftlich)
International Journal of Law in Context
Patterns of (Forced) Migration
Kurze Beschreibung / Abstract:
Research has rarely investigated the actions bureaucrats take to challenge the status quo of their organisation from within. Proposing a power-analytical approach to voice, exit and everyday resistance as political strategies of challenging the bureaucratic status quo, I study the difficulties of achieving organisational change in a context of structural constraints on junior bureaucrats’ reformative power. During field research in Niger's Refugee Directorate, I found that despite the associated risks, junior bureaucrats criticised their working conditions and, in confidential conversations, the administration. As precarious staff, they often combined criticism with compliance. In frequent acts of semi-private criticism amongst peers and with external actors, they problematised their working conditions and the state, but performed symbolic conformity in the everyday to avoid sanctions. This strategy nevertheless created autonomy for themselves and mobilised external actors for change-making. In rarer acts of direct criticism voiced to their superiors, the junior staff often complied with the same informal solidarities they vocally criticised.
Sprache: English
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