AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Gatekeepers of the Family : Regulating Family Migration to Finland

by Saara Pellander

Institution: University of Helsinki
Year: 2016
Keywords: poliittinen historia
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2084605
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/162719


This thesis explores the normative underpinnings of family migration in public discourses, in policies and their implementation. At the same time, it investigates the normative frameworks that regulations on family migration create. The relationship between family norms and immigration control is mutually co-constitutive: while policymakers and bureaucrats rely on publicly accepted and common-sense understandings of acceptable family life, at the same time they themselves contribute to constructing these norms. The study builds on interviews with immigration bureaucrats, analyzes parliamentary plenary debates, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper editorials, as well as court cases from the Helsinki Administrative Court. Methodologically, it develops the notion problem frames by combining frame analysis with the Foucauldian notion of problematization. The analysis is based on the understanding that public debates are socially constitutive speech acts that shape our understanding of family migration and eventually contribute to the policy agenda and policy framing Intersectionality works as analytical tool to examine how constructed categories mutually reinforce each other and create axes of inclusion and exclusion. There are certain conditions in which some family ties grant people the right to belong, while other people are excluded and positioned as unwanted. The study conceptualizes struggles over the right to belong as gatekeeping and bordering processes, in which the nation-state is reinscribed and defined through exclusionary discourses and problem frames. The thesis arrives at three main conclusions. First, the analysis shows that migration regulations cause, prevent, and require dependence: dependence on the sponsor/spouse, dependence on the welfare state, and dependence on a caring family member. Each of these dependencies has different implications and effects for different, intersectionally positioned groups of migrants. Second, this thesis shows that the way in which migrant families are evaluated is part of s dual process of moral gatekeeping. On the one hand, moral justifications are used to argue for the inclusion or exclusion of certain families, while on the other hand, the gatekeeping of morals works to portray certain families as a threat to Finnish family norms. Third, this thesis shows that gendered assumptions about care relations influence whether or not family ties qualify a person for a residence permit in Finland. Furthermore, he right to care for elderly parents is connected with questions of cultural citizenship. Overall, the key finding is that in the regulation of family migration, formal and informal axes of exclusion are part of one and the same continuum. They are based on a set of shared assumptions, discourses, and modes of thought that categorize and label migrants. Tämä tutkimus selvittää, miten Suomen lainsäätäjät sekä lain toimeenpanijat määrittelevät, rajoittavat ja käsittelevät perheenyhdistämistä. Työ tuo esille hyväksyttävän perhe-elämän hierarkioita, joita…