Ontological Security in Times of Global Transformations? Bureaucrats' Perceptions on Organizational Work Life and Migration

Carolin Schütze*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Processes of globalization have accelerated over the last decades with profound consequences at the individual and societal level. This article discusses the repercussions of global changes in welfare organizations. In this context, migration is often portrayed as the main cause of the multiple insecurities caused by global transformations. It is examined how ontological insecurity caused by global transformations influences individuals and how these influences manifest themselves in the working life of bureaucrats. The aim is to explore how bureaucrats express themselves regarding their work with migrants and about migration in general and how we can understand these perceptions. A sample of 130 open‐ended responses that were part of a nationwide survey directed towards bureaucrats from two of the main Swedish welfare institutions was analyzed through systematic content analysis. The results show that bureaucrats use different identity strategies, namely, retreatism in the form of distancing oneself, essentialism in the form of resentment towards migrants, and engagement in the form of mutual dialogue. These strategies are used to handle uncertainties and overcome complexities not only as professionals in their work life, but also as private individuals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 22. February 2021.


  • Ontological security
  • Identity strategies
  • Migration
  • Organizational work

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