The Criminal, the Pauper, and the Foreigner in the Production of Citizenship

Public Lecture

Speaker: Professor Loic Wacquant, University of California Berkeley and Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique, Paris

Title: The Criminal, the Pauper, and the Foreigner in the Production of Citizenship

Date: Monday 12 March 2012, 18:30 -20:00
Venue: Town Hall, Oxford

 The public lecture is part of the COMPAS symposium “Citizenship and Its Others’ (


The social and symbolic silhouette of the modern citizen is defined through contraposition with three deviant figures: the criminal, who violates the law and imperils the physical integrity of civil society from within; the pauper, who shirks the obligation of work and corrodes the moral integrity of the wage-labor compact from within; and the foreigner, who threatens to breach the membrane of national membership from without and is suspected of being prone to turning into a criminal or a welfare recipient. These three figures have been studied by different disciplines (criminology, social welfare, sociology/ethnic studies) and by different subfields inside of each discipline. 

Wacquant proposes to bring them under a single analytic framework attentive to the material and symbolic charge of policies aimed at managing problem categories. I argue that the shift from rehabilitative to punitive criminal justice, the transition from protective welfare to disciplinary workfare, and from the administrative to the penal regulation of immigration are correlated and converging changes that partake of the building of the neoliberal state and fuel the politics of resentment in the age of social insecurity and ethnic anxiety. 

 This event is open to all. To attend, please register by e-mailing

Being children, migrant and undocumented: a background paper

Published in COMPAS Working Paper Series (n.78, 2010),  this background paper offers a critical review of key terms, concepts and evidence which will inform our ongoing qualitative study on the situation of undocumented migrant minors in the UK. The paper first addresses issues related to the definition of the target group, considering in particular the dichotomy legal/illegal immigration and showing how it fails to acknowledge two important aspects: the layered nature of legal status and entitlements, and the mobility between different statuses over time. It then introduces the debate on children in migration and illustrates some of the tensions that the migration of children produces, both discursively and in policy terms. It goes on to consider the legal and policy context in which children and families without legal status are embedded in Britain. It discusses the complex and contradictory position of this group as revealed in policy documents and existing immigration and child-related legislation. It focuses in particular on issues such as access to health and education services, and employment of undocumented migrants under 18. Finally the paper outlines the main trends in the migration of children, providing a preliminary mapping of the numbers and locations of undocumented children in Britain.