(Re)thinking the Precarity of Swedish Migrants: Governing through Decelerations and Timescapes

(Re)thinking the Precarity of Swedish Migrants: Governing through Decelerations and Timescapes Abstract This article uses the concept of ‘time’ in order to better understand the situation of precarious migrants in Sweden. Through analysing a number of reports and interviews undertaken with newly arrived migrants in Sweden, it displays how different temporal understandings of the migrants are linked to and managed by governing bodies, laws and regulations. The article centres around two related research questions: (i) What constructions of time are used in the governing of precarious migrants? and (ii) How do these migrants understand their own and society’s time? Introduction This article will discuss how the governing of precarious migrants in Sweden operates through different constructions of time and displays migrants’ own understandings of their and society’s time. It also displays, among other things, how migrants’ precarization makes them exposed to various temporal techniques of governing, such as acceleration or deceleration of time. Michel Foucault (1977) has shown that the control of time is fundamental to techniques of governing (cf. Thompson 1967). By embracing this perspective, the article claims that approaches of time are an important aspect when studying migrants’ precarious situations and not least in situations where work is only a part of the context. New aspects of governing, discrepancies between different temporalities, as well as the migrants’ positions in an accelerated world order all become discernible by using temporal concepts such as acceleration, deceleration and multiple temporalities. This is important as ‘time’ is—not least in migrant studies—often taken for granted and, according to Barbara Adam (1990: 3), ‘is such an obvious factor in social science that it is almost invisible’. Based on interviews with migrants as well as different reports that were published in 2015, we in this article discuss the lives of newly arrived migrants in Sweden. By embracing the concepts of acceleration, deceleration and multiple temporalities, it connects individual experiences of precarity with different ways of governing the newly arrived migrants. The article centres on two related research questions: (i) What constructions of time are used in the governing of precarious migrants? and (ii) How do these migrants understand their own and society’s time? While our lives unfold through a variety of ‘time frames’—such as standardized global clock time, slow or fast time, etc.—these temporalities are rarely displayed in the social sciences. Time is a field of struggles within the political and private spheres, it is a scientific concept and our conceptions of time often reflect different cultural prejudices. In what follows, we seek to shed some light on how time comes into play in the social, political and cultural lives of migrants. Migrating entails many time-related experiences: ‘Waiting, accelerating, queuing, being still, stopping, repeating etc. are among the different experiences of the journey, although they are not, of course, experienced equally by all’ (Griffiths et al. 2013: 11). By exploring the somewhat messy terrain of time and temporalities, we try to reveal some of the challenges that migrants are experiencing. Precarious Migrants and the Concept of Figurations Guy Standing (2014) argues in his book, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, that people worldwide and across different social classes currently find themselves in a situation of precarity due to globalization and economic neo-liberalism. Standing seeks to understand these precarious people as a new social class—the precariat. Since Standing published his book, the concept of the precariat has grown in popularity, but has also been criticized. Critics argue that precarity is a situation that people fall into and out of, but can never be entirely identified with. They foremost understand precarity in contemporary society as a process—‘precarization’—that normalizes a state of precariousness for an increasing number of people. As precarity intersects with many other social categories, these critics are also hesitant to reduce it to social class or work. Instead of the precariat, these researchers prefer to discuss the precarious (see Lorey 2011; Butler and Kania 2013; Lorey 2015). According to Isabell Lorey, the precarious situation is not only a result of new forms of capitalism; it is also sustained and facilitated by the individuals themselves, who respond to new expectations under neo-liberal conditions. She uses the concept of governmental precarization to address how instruments of governing interact with conditions of economic exploitation and modes of subjectivation (Lorey 2011, 2015). Modes of subjectivation include the ways in which individuals become socially, politically and economically controllable—not least through the way that they conduct and govern themselves in times of insecurity. Similar arguments have been made when the precarization of migrants is discussed; the point is that governments, through their immigration policies and together with private economic interests and individual migrants themselves, are active in creating and sustaining precarity in individuals’ lives (Lewis et al. 2015). Researchers have identified migrants as a group that is particularly vulnerable to precarization (Standing 2014; Polanco 2016). Some scholars even use the term ‘hyper-precariousness’ to describe the situation of many migrants in the West (see e.g. Lewis et al. 2015). These scholars have pointed to the overlapping of state immigration policy and private-sector liberation to account for migrants’ vulnerable position. In this article, we view precarization as a social transformation in which people who are living under conditions that are characterized by, above all, economic uncertainty become ‘precarious’. The economic uncertainty of precarious migrants is a result of relations of domination, economic exploitation and/or violence interacting together with different discourses of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and nationality. As we will see in the forthcoming sections, for the precarious, different instruments of governing often end up interacting with conditions of economic insecurity and modes of subjectivation. The migrant position is a position—a ‘figure’—that one might embody just for a short period of time. We use the concept of ‘figurations’ (inspired by Braidotti (2006)) to address how subjects who move to a new country materialize as ‘migrants’ in the tension between different discourses, localities and materialities. How do ‘migrants’ emerge in contexts that ascribe significance to their background, gender, religion, sexuality and so on? Figurations are not only abstract positions; they are embodied by subjects who perform their situation. Figurations emerge from processes of self-formation and are to be seen as possible figures of identification. Figurations must be understood and related to the social and material conditions that are necessary for their very existence (Braidotti 2006, 2011: 4–11). The precarious subject that is moving to a new space is identified as a ‘migrant’—a figuration she/he is expected to perform, repeat and maintain.1 Time, Decelerations and Multiple Temporalities In this section, we give an overview of some previous research within the ‘field of time’. We are particularly interested in how time, as a social practice, is represented and replicated in the social sciences (see e.g. Nowotny 1992; Shimada 1995; Ikuko 1997). People often relate to time as a subjective and emotional experience—for example, as stressful, nostalgic or hopeful. Having some influence over the social organizing of time therefore means having power over both social actions and subjective experiences. Adam describes this control in the following way: The control of time … includes the slowing down of processes, the re-arrangement of past, present and culture, the re-ordering of sequence, and the transformation of rhythmicity into a rationalized beat (Adam 2003: 69). What Adam pinpoints is how time is often manipulated, controlled or how clock time is spent by governing bodies. To display how time is used as a mode of governing in refugee and immigration issues, we use the notion of different ‘temporalities’. The concept of temporality involves the social organization and perception of time (Shimada 1995; Ikuko 1997). Often, we do not understand and organize time in only one way. Carolyn Dinshaw (2007) suggests that we should embrace the notion of multiple temporalities that exist side by side. This would give us new analytical insights into different power relations. The existence of multiple temporalities implies that people tend to understand and organize their time in different ways, at different times depending on the context. In addition, subjects tend to embrace multiple temporalities, which interact simultaneously. As we will see below, these different temporalities might clash with other temporal norms that are fleshed out by governing bodies. ‘Migrants’ move in time, crossing ground/spaces with their material bodies, thereby bringing temporal norms, from different scenes, into new contexts. Migrant subjects organize their time, and their bodily performances, in their meetings with those who govern, organize and make demands. It could be the Swedish Public Employment Service or the Swedish migrant agency that requires meetings, papers and/or other time-demanding activities. The different temporalities of the migrants and/or the state thereby entangle in space (meetings, institutions, countries, etc.) and matter (e.g. soil, bodies). To make these kinds of entanglements visible, Adam has usefully drawn upon the concept of ‘timescapes’ to denote heterogeneous times and how they are set up in space (Adam 2003). In order to undertake in-depth analyses of different ways of living and the organizing of time, timescapes comprise, among other things, time patterns (rhythmicity, cyclicality, etc.), time extensions (duration, continuity) and time points (certain moments, now, etc.). Tensions between timescapes can be an important place where contemporary figurations, such as the migrant or the precarious, emerge. Adam (1998) notes that timescapes include not only traces of current and visible contexts, but also those of the past, invisible and immanent contexts (Adam 1998; Raddon 2007). In a new neo-liberal, globalized world order, our understandings of the time/space nexus are changing. Scholars, such as David Harvey (1990), have, for example, shown that contemporary understandings of time must embrace the ‘time-space’ compression we live under and how humans cope with this new situation. Another similar theme is explored by Hartmut Rosa (2014), who proposes a theory of social acceleration, which acknowledges that the pace of material, economic and cultural life becomes ever faster—there is an acceleration of time. Rosa argues that, to survive the contemporary time acceleration, some people create zones of strategic ‘deceleration’, such as yoga, meditation and retreats. However, these deceleration zones can also serve to govern people. Deceleration is, in some cases, a strategy through which people are able to discipline themselves and become capable of surviving the onrush of social processes. However, there are also entire communities ‘stuck behind’ global acceleration, which makes poverty and inequality connected to the organizing of time. Overall, the concept of time is used in various disciplines to understand social ordering, experiences and governing, also in regard to migrants’ journeys (Bailey et al. 2002; Brun 2015). In this article, we claim that deceleration, acceleration and new temporalities are to be seen as instruments of governing that interact with modes of subjectivation. This indicates the importance of exploring the situation of precarious migrants through the notion of time. As we will see below, conceptualizations of acceleration, deceleration and different temporalities can help us to shed some light upon the meeting between the newly arrived migrants and the departments/organizations that organize their lives. The migrants who are arriving in Sweden have no work, house or means, and thus are dependent on the governing of various institutions, which motivates many to embody the temporal norms of governing institutions. Collection of Data The below analysis is based on interviews conducted with individuals currently regarded as migrants and who are located in a Swedish territory as well secondary sources—reports—that detail migrants’ situations. The interview material, which provides the basis of the article, was collected in two different rounds. The first set of data was collected by Sweden Research, an institution that conducts studies and analysis of issues concerning social sustainability and urban development for authorities, municipalities and other publicly financed organizations. The interview material has been gathered using a combination of more open-ended as well as survey-like questions. In all, the article accounts for the results from interviews in focus groups with 456 respondents who have applied for asylum in Sweden. Out of these, 319 people completed a written survey, before starting the interviews. The respondents came from, among other places, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Libya and Syria. The interviews have been conducted in the Swedish municipalities of Eskilstuna, Gällivare, Haparanda, Huddinge, Jokkmokk, Kiruna, Knivsta, Mora, Nacka, Orust, Oskarshamn, Stockholm, Svalöv, Trelleborg, Vindeln and Österåker. The selection of respondents was made in order to get a geographical spread from all over Sweden. To get information and contact details about available asylum accommodation, all 290 Swedish municipalities were contacted. Thirteen of the respondents had obtained their residence permit prior to being interviewed. The remaining respondents were living in an asylum accommodation, waiting for the decision on their requested residence permit from the Swedish Migration Agency. The surveys/interviews in the focus groups have been conducted in Arabic and/or Farsi/Dari and thereafter translated into Swedish and English. Over and above these interviews, to get more detailed personal accounts, which further display migrants’ understandings, we have used eight additional interviews. These interviews were conducted as part of a project in a specific municipality of Sweden. The aim of the project was to spread settlements of migrants more widely in Sweden. Still, in spite of the aim of the study, the interviewees’ answers reflected the replies in the Sweden Research study to a high degree. The smaller project included two groups: one target group and one reference group. The target group consisted of nine newly arrived non-European migrants. All except one of these were interviewed in pairs and all except one pair were interviewed through an interpreter (giving us a total of five interviews). The reference group consisted of three individuals who had immigrated to Sweden a few years before and were asked to contribute their own experiences to the project. The interviews with the reference group were conducted in Swedish. In addition to the interviews, our discussions also partly focus on different institutions’ published policy reports/articles on newly arrived migrants and the labour market in Sweden. In order to examine this body of work, we searched three institutions—the Swedish Public Employment Service; the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO, founded in 1898, with the aim to organize all national labour unions in one central organization); and the Swedish university system (we searched the publications of 40 universities/university colleges through the Diva publication database) for their work in the area. When looking for what these institutions published, we searched for reports and/or articles published in 2015 with titles including the words ‘refugee [Sw. flykting]’, ‘migrant [Sw. migrant]’, ‘immigrant [Sw. invandrare]’ or ‘newly arrived [Sw. nyanländ]’. We found nine reports and articles. We then read abstracts for all of these works and chose a subset to read in a thorough manner. When selecting this more limited sample, we embraced all reports that analysed migrants who were living in asylum accommodation or participating in the government’s introductory programmes. In all, we selected two reports for which newly arrived migrants formed a central empirical topic. The reports are: I skuggan av hög arbetslöshet—om flykting- och anhöriginvandrares arbetsmarknadsetablering (2015). The report was commissioned by the main Swedish labour union organization (LO, Landsorganisationen i Sverige) and it was written by the union’s investigator Ulrika Vedin. The report was written to give empirical impetus to discussions over how Sweden can achieve full employment in all sectors of the labour market. Perspektiv på etableringsprogrammet, hälsa och välbefinnande, Nyanlända migranters röster (2015), written by Anne-Maria Ikonen at Malmö University. The purpose of this study was to identify the factors and conditions that affect the health and welfare of newly arrived migrants by focusing on their perceptions and experiences. The study is qualitative and is based on eight focus group interviews with 40 adult men and women whose origin is the Middle East, Somalia or Afghanistan. The above-mentioned reports have been used to complement as well as add new aspects to the interview material. In addition, the reports themselves have been analysed to display the constructions of time that are structuring the temporal knowledge around migrant bodies. The analysis below embraces different temporal concepts in order to better understand the situation of precarious migrants in Sweden. Through analysing a number of reports and interviews with newly arrived migrants, we display how different instruments of governing the migrants emerge from and/or employ the control of time. It is noteworthy that, while time was not raised as an explicit issue by any of the interviewers, nor as a theme in the reports, it is a recurring topic throughout both the interviews and the reports. Migrants as a Precarious Group in Sweden Migration is cross-boundary in its nature as people move between countries to flee from persecution or in relation to family, work or studies in other countries (Migrationsverket 2015). According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the need for resettlement of people in 2016 is greater than ever before. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that some 1.2 million individuals would need this form of protection. Some of these people have crossed the border into Sweden (Migrationsverket 2016b). When the migrants have received their residence permit, the main focus is often on how to secure the basic requirements of life. The Swedish state offers several programmes in order to help people to settle into their new homeland. As we will see below, people who are allowed to stay in Sweden but who lack employment become the target of specific ‘introduction plans’ and ‘settlement programmes’, which they need to abide by in order to secure an income. After the new migrant has received her/his residence permit, she/he will meet with the Swedish Public Employment Service to talk about previous work experience, goals, interests and skills. Thereafter, the introduction plan and settlement programme are set up and an allowance is given to them as long as the migrant follows the programme (Migrationsverket 2016a). Thus, the newly immigrated are, to a certain degree, forced to fulfil the demands of the Swedish state and its subdivisions to be able to pay for their expenses. A statement from the government summarizes the state’s responsibility for introducing the job market to newly arrived refugees: •The state, via the Swedish Public Employment Service, will have a coordinating responsibility for initial settlement issues. •The Swedish Public Employment Service is required to produce a personal introduction plan (Swedish ‘etableringsplan’) together with the migrant herself/himself. This plan is based on the individual’s previous education and work experience and should always contain Swedish-language courses, civic orientation and employment-preparation activities. •An introduction benefit that is equal for everyone is paid out to all migrants actively participating in settlement programmes. The benefit is designed so that it allows the recipient to have work alongside the settlement programme. •One actor—an introduction guide—helps the newly arrived migrant to find a job. This guide is an independent actor, working under the auspices of the Swedish Public Employment Service. New arrivals are able to choose their guides themselves. •New arrivals who have an introduction plan take part in civic orientation (Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality 2011). The settlement programme always includes language courses, vocational training and other employment-related measures. Below, we primarily discuss the lives of migrants who are living in asylum accommodation, waiting for the decision from the Migration Agency on their requested residence permit, or have received their residence permit and have got their introduction plan. The migrants interviewed in this study entered Swedish territory before June 2016, when more generous migration laws were still valid. Later in 2016, however, the Swedish parliament adopted a number of legislative changes that affect asylum seekers’ possibilities to stay in Sweden. Among other things, in June 2016, the Swedish parliament adopted a new law that limits asylum seekers’ possibilities of being granted residence permits and the possibility for the applicant’s family to come to Sweden. Although these legislative changes are temporary and will only be valid for three years, it has become a major obstacle for many migrants (http://www.migrationsverket.se/English/About-the-Migration-Agency/New-laws-in-2016.html (accessed 12 December 2017)). Migrants, Precariousness and Time: An Analysis So far, the brief review of time and migrants in Sweden has fleshed out the question of precarious migrants’ understandings of their own and societies’ different temporalities and modes of governing. To explore this issue, in the next sections, we draw upon the stories we encountered in the interviews, and in different reports. We discuss the precariousness of newly arrived migrants in relation to conceptualizations of acceleration, deceleration and temporalities. The Contradictions between the ‘Unchangeable’ Other and Time as Symbolizing Change Before moving on to the experiences of those who are trying to establish themselves in Sweden—an experience that often seems inextricably linked to the governing of various agencies in a Swedish context—we will critically analyse the contents of the chosen reports. The importance of time is implicit in the terminology of all the reports. Among other things, in the texts, the word ‘nyanlända’, which means ‘newly arrived’, is repeatedly used. For example, in the report of Vedin (2015: 16), the following is stated: ‘The area of “Newly arrived” establishment stretches over several major policy areas, particularly migration and asylum policy, housing, employment and education policies’. The very wording ‘newly arrived’ indicates how the reports imbue geographical regions with time, so that one can be either new to a country or not. The concept of a ‘newly arrived’ then tells us something about space entangled with time. The migrant travelling from one place to another in the past then becomes the very base for a whole new discourse about ‘newly arrived’. An important difference is created between those who were here before and those who just recently entered the new country (space) and are now classified as ‘newly arrived’. Thus, time, as well as space, becomes implicit in the concept of ‘newly arrived’. Interwoven dimensions of time and space are ‘hidden’ in the discourses of Swedish migrants. To understand the reports and how discourses develop and revolve around migrant bodies, we must, as Adam (1998) did, acknowledge the links between time, space and matter. Time and space are not neutral or static ‘facts’, but are constitutive of and constituted by social reality (Adam 1998, 2003; Raddon 2007). Almost all the reports acknowledge that the time spent in Sweden matters in regard to the position on the labour market or in regard to housing issues. Time issues are also important in the way that the ‘newly arrived’ are organized, classified and named in the reports. Time here is addressed as ‘clock time’. Vedin describes the structure of her report: The survey is based on SCB (AKU) and thus follows that the population has been divided into five groups based on class and gender. Two groups consist of foreign-born. One includes them with up to ten years in Sweden, while the second group includes those with at least ten years in Sweden. One group consists of those born in Sweden with two foreign-born parents and one of native-born with a native-born parent …. This report, which mainly focuses on the establishment, will compare three population groups: •Foreign-born with up to ten years in Sweden, •Foreign-born with at least ten years in Sweden, and •Born in Sweden with two native-born parents (Vedin 2015: 16–17). Why the (clock) time spent in Sweden is used to such an extent to classify and define the migrants is never made explicit in the reports. Time here comes to symbolize something that is not clearly displayed or discussed. What changes are implicit in the sentence ‘at least ten years in Sweden’? Temporally grounded, taken-for-granted categories are used to separate individuals into different groups. Scholars such as Mark Turner (2004) have emphasized the plurality and diversity of times. But individuals’ divergent temporal experiences are not displayed or problematized within the reports. On the contrary, new temporalities are produced in the reports, thereafter categorizing subjects accordingly. Time, in some senses, becomes a field of cultural prejudices, where pre-made, but not problematized, conceptions of time are hidden in the texts. Time Deceleration and ‘Inadequate’ Temporalities Below, we discuss the interviews from the concepts of temporalities, deceleration and acceleration, in order to show how migrants’ temporalities are governed. We want to emphasize that we view temporal categories, and people’s understandings of time, as something that is in constant change, thus different temporalities and timescapes are to be seen as ongoing processes of negotiations and transformation. The temporal understandings of the migrated subjects seemed to be linked to and managed by different governing units in different ways. First of all, there seem to be different heterogeneous temporalities at stake. The preferred temporalities of the migrants seldom overlap with how laws and policies seek to organize the migrants’ time. While the Swedish state, the laws and policies point at one way of organizing the migrants’ time, they themselves, for different reasons, want to organize their time differently. However, these heterodox desires seem to become difficult to sustain when laws and economic incentives set boundaries to the situation. The gap between the temporal limits of the governing institutions and the temporal desires of the migrants was expressed in different ways: It is worse than I expected in Sweden. They put us in prison and ask us to wait. We are not used to be jobless or sit at home daily as we do here. They teach us to be lazy, we are not animals to accept such life (Interview, man from Syria). I heard about the long waiting time in Sweden. It is unbelievable! Each step in the process requires so long time. I thought the situation would be like what is going in Germany or the UK. But, it is not! The situation is very frustrating. I’ve lost my motivations. If time goes back again, I would not choose to come to Sweden ever (Interview, man from Pakistan). Yes, we’d like to stay in Sweden, it’s a good country! But Sweden needs to ‘open up’ to us—let us come along. I have not arrived here to just sit and do nothing. I want to work, be active, contribute to society! (Interview, woman from Palestine).2 These voices expose how time has become a field of struggle between the governed and governing. The respondent’s wishes for the future seem to be the acceleration of time. This was communicated through statements where the respondents explained how they ‘want to work, be active, contribute to society’, which can be interpreted as them wanting to accelerate social processes and settle into Sweden more quickly. However, the instruments of governing—administrative practices, policies and laws—instead seem to decelerate the migrants’ temporal experiences. Many of the interviews have been conducted with people who are living in different kinds of asylum accommodation, while waiting for the decision from the Migration Agency on their requested residence permit. In this, they express the feeling of being stopped by different barriers, which prevent them from getting settled. The time deceleration seems to be the result of various governmental policies—an outcome through which the precarious are disciplined into ‘waiting subjects’. One respondent explained why he is eager to embrace a faster pace by organizing time differently: When I speak to the staff at the Migration Agency for instance, they note that many of the newly arrived migrants are frustrated with their situation. They [the Migration Agency employees] ask: why are they angry? Why aren’t they satisfied? I would argue it’s because they [the migrants] have nothing to do. They sit around and can do nothing else than ponder old memories from home, which are often painful. They want to do more and have a lot of unspent energy (Interview, man from Syria). The migrants’ temporal wish-lists do not overlap with the temporality and time perspectives of the governing institutions. The plurality of temporal practices and expectations, which create discord, result in a situation where the migrants end up as quite frustrated. As one of the respondent argued: ‘They teach us to be lazy, we are not animals to accept such life.’ Similarly, a highly educated, middle-aged man with a recognized professional career narrates how eager he is to work and start a new life in his new country. Gradually, however, his hopes have been dashed as the situation becomes bleaker. He says: I have heard that Sweden has an acute need for medical doctors. It’s tough being idle, when I know that I am needed and want to work—but the rules don’t allow me. As a doctor, you need to practice your profession all the time in order not to relax too much and get behind. I have left my university transcripts with [name of project manager] and they have forwarded it to the proper bureaus for validation (Interview, man from Syria). Another migrant stated that it is surprising how long newly arrived migrants have been kept waiting: It’s been a great surprise to me that we have been made to wait this long. That we sit here after 1 year and 8 months and still have not started to learn Swedish! (Interview, woman from Nigeria). The above quotations imply that publically construed temporality can create frustration and despair for migrants who are eager to start afresh. There has also been some previous research that elaborates on ‘waiting’. Giovanni Gasparini (1995), for example, outlines three types of waiting as (i) blockage of action, (ii) an experience filled with substitute meanings and (iii) a meaningful experience. Likewise, Harold Schweizer argues that waiting can be a productive, rather than empty time (Schweizer 2008; see also Griffiths et al. 2013: 21). However, in our data, even the respondents who accept the waiting time do not embrace it as productive; they rather seem to discipline themselves and adapt to the temporalities implemented by Swedish institutions and accept how time is produced and ordered. One respondent said: First and foremost, people need to ‘take it slowly’! Many are stressed, want everything to go quickly and they complain when it takes time. But you must understand that this is not Syria or Iraq—it is Sweden and this is how it works here. You must understand that each municipality has many migrants to help and many are ahead of you in the queue for municipal support. If they must wait till October, people get impatient and say it takes too long. But I respond that if they [the municipalities] say October, October it is—you have to accept that, it is how Sweden works (Interview, man from Iraq). This quotation reveals an adaption to the temporal perspectives and practices of the Swedish immigration service. It is an approval of the different stages, as formulated by the Swedish state, in force at the point of arrival. At an initial state, our respondents were expected to live in asylum housing while waiting for their residence permit. Thereafter, the ordering of time in the migrants’ lives involves technologies of governing, such as the specific settlement programme, which the migrants need to follow in order to secure welfare benefits. When having their individual introduction plan produced for them, the migrants come into contact with governing institutions: the Swedish Public Employment Service and the Swedish Migration Agency, both of which act out the policies, laws and regulations of the Swedish state. Overall, not only do the instruments of governing the precarious emerge from and/or employ constructions of time, but also people who experience precariousness are disciplined against and embody the society’s perspectives on time. The ‘time of waiting’ that is illustrated in the above quotations needs to be understood in the specific context of Swedish welfare and migration policies. The precarity of migrants who experience economic uncertainties makes them exposed as well as responsive to different instruments of governing. Only people without income would submit to giving up on not only their time, but also their very understanding of time. The subject figuration that emerges in the new Swedish timescape is one who constantly feels the need to comply with the demands of the state—even if it goes against their conviction—or else they risk losing their temporary provisions. From the above, it follows that precarization for the waiting subjects is not associated with time acceleration, but rather deceleration. When the migrant has received her/his residence permit and gets into the labour market, however, another set of temporal difficulties faces the migrants. Temporally grounded, taken-for-granted categories seem to influence how potential employers view migrants. If/when migrants with less than 10 years in Sweden are offered work, they are often employed by the hour or have temporary assignments.3 Employers seem to regard foreign-born people with up to 10 years in Sweden as a buffet of reserve labour (Vedin 2015: 30, 56). It is often the case that employers consider it worthwhile to invest in employees who will be around in the future—not those who are engaged in temporary assignments. Permanent employment is central to employers’ willingness to invest in skills development, but also accountability, participation and influence at the work place (LO 2013). Various decisions of employers are then temporally grounded, where those employees who are imagined to be around in the future are invested in today. Thus, the expectations of the future then form the working tasks of the present. Temporary workers are usually given tasks that are routine in character, since employers strive to minimize the need for upskilling employees who are on temporary assignments. Overall, work tasks are adapted to the temporal order of the employer, where temporal expectations tend to shape the relationship between the employee and the employer. Working tasks and skills training are shaped from different temporal principles and expectations, which are connected to ‘permanent’ and ‘temporary’ labour. In this, not only the temporal, but also the spatial aspect matters. As Barbara Adam’s (2003) concept of timescape displays, heterogeneous approaches to time are set up in space. In this case, it is about who will attend the space, the workplace, in the future and the temporal/spatial expectations that this currently creates. Figurations and Gendered Temporalities Most of our respondents had not obtained their residence permit at the time that they were interviewed. Therefore, few reflected upon, from their specific subject position, the accelerated tempo that the introductory programmes demand. However, in the report Perspective on the Establishment of the Program, Health and Wellbeing, Newly Arrived Migrants’ Voices, the author Anne-Maria Ikonen (2015) discusses different Swedish working-life issues from different gendered and/or religious positions. By using Ikonen’s work, we surmise that the temporalities that govern migrants in Sweden are also highly gendered. Within feminist studies, the temporal aspects of gender constructions have been scrutinized particularly closely in the last two decades. Kate Weston, for example, argues that earlier gender theory ‘exalts the visual at the expense of the temporal’ (Weston 2002: 2). ‘Gender equality’ is also often considered one of the cornerstones of Swedish society; this gender equality is mainly expressed in women’s and men’s equal participation in the work force. The latter is, according to Ikonen, experienced as problematic by many of the migrant women whom she interviewed. There are women with babies, she states, who argue that good mothers should stay at home with their children, but that it is hard when you participate in the settlement programme. Ikonen exemplifies this view by quoting a Palestinian woman with three children who argued that she was a much better mother to her two oldest children when the family still lived in the Middle East, and that her youngest child now suffers from her constant absence. She stated: ‘My children hold on to me and say how much they need me. I feel like a lousy mother’ (Ikonen 2015: 212). The quotation displays how the cross-boundary situation of the woman creates a situation in which women sometimes struggle to embody the temporalities of their cultures of origin, which are challenged in the new Swedish location. The life of the woman, quoted above, gives us insight into the constraints and contradictions that the figuration of migrant women offers us: it is a figuration formed in the interplay between a Swedish and a Middle Eastern locality. The self-disciplinary practices the woman performs in relation to the different temporal norms of the establishing programme and different norms of ‘motherhood’ display the tension between different gender ideals (Braidotti 2011: 11–12). Ikonen (2015) comes to the conclusion that some respondents prioritize life goals other than those propounded by the settlement programme. Different figurations are entangled in different temporalities and, depending on what figuration you embody, time is expected to be spent on certain practices. In the quotation above, for example, certain gender norms are tied to time spent with children in private, while the public Swedish programmes for migrants demand time spent in more public venues. A similar conflict between different temporalities was created in the tension between religious subject positions and the demands of the establishing programme: One informant describes his goal as ‘to be a good Muslim,’ and several other informants agree with him. When asked how this goal can be reconciled with the establishment program, the informants state that the scheduled activities of the establishment program often get into conflict with their religious practice and it is therefore hard for them to follow the establishment program during Ramadan. … One informant stated that: ‘You know, we have to follow establishing program, to get a payment, but the religious obligation is still something quite different—it is very important’ (Ikonen 2015: 21). Overall, Ikonen’s research indicates that the settlement programme governs new migrants in a temporal sense. Still, it may be difficult for the Swedish state to employ settlement programmes that reflect the timescapes that prevail in the locations from where the migrants have emigrated. In addition, different figurations and temporal understandings should not be ‘essentialized’, but the temporalities of migrants are changing with the displacement and exile process. Or, in the words of Gadi BenEzer and Roger Zetter (2014: 18): ‘Exploring the experience of the journey can shed new light on the social and individual processes of identity formation, adjustment and transition, and settlement and integration for refugees.’ Thus, migrants are in a process of (re)socialization, often adjusting to the social codes of the new country. Still, the above indicates that the migration process, at times, entails a potential conflict between ways of organizing time—a conflict that needs to be explored further. Conclusion As stated above, precarization is not a marginal phenomenon, but describes a major social transformation in many parts of the world. In all, millions of people have become ‘precarious’; they are living under conditions that are characterized, above all, by economic uncertainty (Standing 2014). According to Standing, newly arrived migrants are particularly exposed to the new precarization. Today, many people from this group live precarious lives, stay in asylum accommodation, are unemployed or are taking a disproportionate share of jobs where they have short-term contracts or no contracts at all. Thereby, migrants in Western industrial nations often live under situations that are marked by a lack of security and illustrate precarity in its ‘uncertainty’ dimension. In this article, we have argued that the concept of time is needed in order to understand the precarious experiences of those who immigrate to Sweden. We have used different temporal concepts to show how migrant subjects are linked to and managed by discursive, managerial and professional forms of power, and how different administrative units, departments and workplaces are linked to different experiences and understandings of time. In the reports that we analysed, the amount of time that migrants have spent in Sweden is used to classify, separate and define them. Time, here, comes to signify differences and qualities that are not always made explicit. The migrants who have been in Sweden for a similar amount of time are assumed to have acquired similar qualities or life situations. There seem to be similar expectations on people who have been in Sweden for the same time span. ‘Time’ seems to have become a field of cultural prejudices. Moreover, in the analysed reports, gendered temporalities seem to colour the migrants’ understanding of being governed. Different figurations, such as the ‘migrated woman’, are sometimes entangled in temporalities, which do not overlap, but rather oppose the time schedules and temporality of the establishing programme that is used to govern the newly arrived. This makes the concept of multiple temporalities an important analytical tool. The ordering of time in migrants’ lives involves technologies of governing, such as the waiting for a decision in regard to their application for asylum and the specific introduction plans that the migrants need to follow in order to secure an income. In order to set up the introduction plan, the migrant comes into contact with the governing institutions: the Swedish Public Employment Service and the Swedish Migration Agency, which both act on the policies, laws and regulations of the Swedish state. Not only do the instruments of governing involve constructions of time and temporalities, but precarious migrants are disciplined against and sometimes come to embody the society’s perspectives on time. The temporality of the Swedish settlement programme can be read in the context of the precarity of the migrant population. To a certain extent, the programme depends on this precarity in order to work, as it assumes that the migrants have little chance to secure an alternative income. Precarious migrants accept the government’s temporalities and thereby become ‘waiting subjects’. The new migrants are categorized temporally and are ‘figured’ as people who are ‘at the start’ of becoming better settled into their new country. It is far from certain that the temporality of this figuration—waiting subject—is best suited to give migrants more secure lives. Acknowledgements We would like to thank Sweden Research and the regional project for providing us with comprehensive data as well as valuable input into the article. Footnotes 1. In this article, the concept of ‘figurations’ is related to time in order to show how precarity is lived out and how the migrants are governed. Being inspired by Braidotti’s concept of figurations, we expand her interpretations by arguing that not only ‘new’ subject positions, from a feminist standpoint, are of interest. Instead, we use a broader understanding of the concept of figurations, which allows us to analyse how precarity is experienced as well as enacted. 2. The total waiting period for asylum decisions is around 12 months in Sweden, according to the Migration Agency’s own estimate (Radio Sweden, 27 March 2017, https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/smaland/normalt-med-1-5-ars-vantan (accessed 17 December 2017)). The number of asylum seekers waiting for more than six months for decision rises by more than 70 per cent in a year in the United Kingdom (The Independent, 25 May 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/asylum-seekers-wait-six-months-more-decision-rise-80-per-cent-figures-home-office-refugee-council-a7755626.html (accessed 17 December 2017)). 3. Broadly speaking, in Sweden, there are primarily two categories of employment: permanent and temporary. Temporary assignments, among other things, cover increases in workload due to vacations, illness cover or maternity/paternity cover. If an employee has worked more than two years within a five-year period as a temporary worker, they then have the legal right of a permanent position (https://www.kommunal.se/svar/anstallning/hur-lange-maste-jag-arbeta-som-vikarie-innan-jag-far-en-fast-tjanst (accessed 17 December 2017)). References ADAM B. ( 1990) Time and Social Theory . Cambridge: Polity. ADAM B. ( 1998) Timescapes of Modernity: The Environment and Invisible Hazards . London: Routledge. ADAM B. ( 2003) ‘Reflexive Modernization Temporalized’. Theory, Culture and Society  20( 2): 59– 78. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   BAILEY A. J., WRIGHT R. A., MOUNTZ A., MIYARES I. M. ( 2002) ‘ (Re)producing Salvadoran Transnational Geographies’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers  92: 125– 144. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   BENEZER G., ZETTER R. 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( 2004) Backward Glances: Cruising Queer Streets in London and New York . London: Reaktion Books. VEDIN U. ( 2015) I skuggan av hög arbetslöshet—om flykting- och anhöriginvandrares arbetsmarknadsetablering [In the Shadow of High Unemployment—on the Labour Market, Refugees and Family Reunited with Migrants ]. Bantorget Grafiska AB, Stockholm. WESTON K. ( 2002) Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Time . London: Routledge. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Refugee Studies Oxford University Press

(Re)thinking the Precarity of Swedish Migrants: Governing through Decelerations and Timescapes

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Abstract

Abstract This article uses the concept of ‘time’ in order to better understand the situation of precarious migrants in Sweden. Through analysing a number of reports and interviews undertaken with newly arrived migrants in Sweden, it displays how different temporal understandings of the migrants are linked to and managed by governing bodies, laws and regulations. The article centres around two related research questions: (i) What constructions of time are used in the governing of precarious migrants? and (ii) How do these migrants understand their own and society’s time? Introduction This article will discuss how the governing of precarious migrants in Sweden operates through different constructions of time and displays migrants’ own understandings of their and society’s time. It also displays, among other things, how migrants’ precarization makes them exposed to various temporal techniques of governing, such as acceleration or deceleration of time. Michel Foucault (1977) has shown that the control of time is fundamental to techniques of governing (cf. Thompson 1967). By embracing this perspective, the article claims that approaches of time are an important aspect when studying migrants’ precarious situations and not least in situations where work is only a part of the context. New aspects of governing, discrepancies between different temporalities, as well as the migrants’ positions in an accelerated world order all become discernible by using temporal concepts such as acceleration, deceleration and multiple temporalities. This is important as ‘time’ is—not least in migrant studies—often taken for granted and, according to Barbara Adam (1990: 3), ‘is such an obvious factor in social science that it is almost invisible’. Based on interviews with migrants as well as different reports that were published in 2015, we in this article discuss the lives of newly arrived migrants in Sweden. By embracing the concepts of acceleration, deceleration and multiple temporalities, it connects individual experiences of precarity with different ways of governing the newly arrived migrants. The article centres on two related research questions: (i) What constructions of time are used in the governing of precarious migrants? and (ii) How do these migrants understand their own and society’s time? While our lives unfold through a variety of ‘time frames’—such as standardized global clock time, slow or fast time, etc.—these temporalities are rarely displayed in the social sciences. Time is a field of struggles within the political and private spheres, it is a scientific concept and our conceptions of time often reflect different cultural prejudices. In what follows, we seek to shed some light on how time comes into play in the social, political and cultural lives of migrants. Migrating entails many time-related experiences: ‘Waiting, accelerating, queuing, being still, stopping, repeating etc. are among the different experiences of the journey, although they are not, of course, experienced equally by all’ (Griffiths et al. 2013: 11). By exploring the somewhat messy terrain of time and temporalities, we try to reveal some of the challenges that migrants are experiencing. Precarious Migrants and the Concept of Figurations Guy Standing (2014) argues in his book, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, that people worldwide and across different social classes currently find themselves in a situation of precarity due to globalization and economic neo-liberalism. Standing seeks to understand these precarious people as a new social class—the precariat. Since Standing published his book, the concept of the precariat has grown in popularity, but has also been criticized. Critics argue that precarity is a situation that people fall into and out of, but can never be entirely identified with. They foremost understand precarity in contemporary society as a process—‘precarization’—that normalizes a state of precariousness for an increasing number of people. As precarity intersects with many other social categories, these critics are also hesitant to reduce it to social class or work. Instead of the precariat, these researchers prefer to discuss the precarious (see Lorey 2011; Butler and Kania 2013; Lorey 2015). According to Isabell Lorey, the precarious situation is not only a result of new forms of capitalism; it is also sustained and facilitated by the individuals themselves, who respond to new expectations under neo-liberal conditions. She uses the concept of governmental precarization to address how instruments of governing interact with conditions of economic exploitation and modes of subjectivation (Lorey 2011, 2015). Modes of subjectivation include the ways in which individuals become socially, politically and economically controllable—not least through the way that they conduct and govern themselves in times of insecurity. Similar arguments have been made when the precarization of migrants is discussed; the point is that governments, through their immigration policies and together with private economic interests and individual migrants themselves, are active in creating and sustaining precarity in individuals’ lives (Lewis et al. 2015). Researchers have identified migrants as a group that is particularly vulnerable to precarization (Standing 2014; Polanco 2016). Some scholars even use the term ‘hyper-precariousness’ to describe the situation of many migrants in the West (see e.g. Lewis et al. 2015). These scholars have pointed to the overlapping of state immigration policy and private-sector liberation to account for migrants’ vulnerable position. In this article, we view precarization as a social transformation in which people who are living under conditions that are characterized by, above all, economic uncertainty become ‘precarious’. The economic uncertainty of precarious migrants is a result of relations of domination, economic exploitation and/or violence interacting together with different discourses of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and nationality. As we will see in the forthcoming sections, for the precarious, different instruments of governing often end up interacting with conditions of economic insecurity and modes of subjectivation. The migrant position is a position—a ‘figure’—that one might embody just for a short period of time. We use the concept of ‘figurations’ (inspired by Braidotti (2006)) to address how subjects who move to a new country materialize as ‘migrants’ in the tension between different discourses, localities and materialities. How do ‘migrants’ emerge in contexts that ascribe significance to their background, gender, religion, sexuality and so on? Figurations are not only abstract positions; they are embodied by subjects who perform their situation. Figurations emerge from processes of self-formation and are to be seen as possible figures of identification. Figurations must be understood and related to the social and material conditions that are necessary for their very existence (Braidotti 2006, 2011: 4–11). The precarious subject that is moving to a new space is identified as a ‘migrant’—a figuration she/he is expected to perform, repeat and maintain.1 Time, Decelerations and Multiple Temporalities In this section, we give an overview of some previous research within the ‘field of time’. We are particularly interested in how time, as a social practice, is represented and replicated in the social sciences (see e.g. Nowotny 1992; Shimada 1995; Ikuko 1997). People often relate to time as a subjective and emotional experience—for example, as stressful, nostalgic or hopeful. Having some influence over the social organizing of time therefore means having power over both social actions and subjective experiences. Adam describes this control in the following way: The control of time … includes the slowing down of processes, the re-arrangement of past, present and culture, the re-ordering of sequence, and the transformation of rhythmicity into a rationalized beat (Adam 2003: 69). What Adam pinpoints is how time is often manipulated, controlled or how clock time is spent by governing bodies. To display how time is used as a mode of governing in refugee and immigration issues, we use the notion of different ‘temporalities’. The concept of temporality involves the social organization and perception of time (Shimada 1995; Ikuko 1997). Often, we do not understand and organize time in only one way. Carolyn Dinshaw (2007) suggests that we should embrace the notion of multiple temporalities that exist side by side. This would give us new analytical insights into different power relations. The existence of multiple temporalities implies that people tend to understand and organize their time in different ways, at different times depending on the context. In addition, subjects tend to embrace multiple temporalities, which interact simultaneously. As we will see below, these different temporalities might clash with other temporal norms that are fleshed out by governing bodies. ‘Migrants’ move in time, crossing ground/spaces with their material bodies, thereby bringing temporal norms, from different scenes, into new contexts. Migrant subjects organize their time, and their bodily performances, in their meetings with those who govern, organize and make demands. It could be the Swedish Public Employment Service or the Swedish migrant agency that requires meetings, papers and/or other time-demanding activities. The different temporalities of the migrants and/or the state thereby entangle in space (meetings, institutions, countries, etc.) and matter (e.g. soil, bodies). To make these kinds of entanglements visible, Adam has usefully drawn upon the concept of ‘timescapes’ to denote heterogeneous times and how they are set up in space (Adam 2003). In order to undertake in-depth analyses of different ways of living and the organizing of time, timescapes comprise, among other things, time patterns (rhythmicity, cyclicality, etc.), time extensions (duration, continuity) and time points (certain moments, now, etc.). Tensions between timescapes can be an important place where contemporary figurations, such as the migrant or the precarious, emerge. Adam (1998) notes that timescapes include not only traces of current and visible contexts, but also those of the past, invisible and immanent contexts (Adam 1998; Raddon 2007). In a new neo-liberal, globalized world order, our understandings of the time/space nexus are changing. Scholars, such as David Harvey (1990), have, for example, shown that contemporary understandings of time must embrace the ‘time-space’ compression we live under and how humans cope with this new situation. Another similar theme is explored by Hartmut Rosa (2014), who proposes a theory of social acceleration, which acknowledges that the pace of material, economic and cultural life becomes ever faster—there is an acceleration of time. Rosa argues that, to survive the contemporary time acceleration, some people create zones of strategic ‘deceleration’, such as yoga, meditation and retreats. However, these deceleration zones can also serve to govern people. Deceleration is, in some cases, a strategy through which people are able to discipline themselves and become capable of surviving the onrush of social processes. However, there are also entire communities ‘stuck behind’ global acceleration, which makes poverty and inequality connected to the organizing of time. Overall, the concept of time is used in various disciplines to understand social ordering, experiences and governing, also in regard to migrants’ journeys (Bailey et al. 2002; Brun 2015). In this article, we claim that deceleration, acceleration and new temporalities are to be seen as instruments of governing that interact with modes of subjectivation. This indicates the importance of exploring the situation of precarious migrants through the notion of time. As we will see below, conceptualizations of acceleration, deceleration and different temporalities can help us to shed some light upon the meeting between the newly arrived migrants and the departments/organizations that organize their lives. The migrants who are arriving in Sweden have no work, house or means, and thus are dependent on the governing of various institutions, which motivates many to embody the temporal norms of governing institutions. Collection of Data The below analysis is based on interviews conducted with individuals currently regarded as migrants and who are located in a Swedish territory as well secondary sources—reports—that detail migrants’ situations. The interview material, which provides the basis of the article, was collected in two different rounds. The first set of data was collected by Sweden Research, an institution that conducts studies and analysis of issues concerning social sustainability and urban development for authorities, municipalities and other publicly financed organizations. The interview material has been gathered using a combination of more open-ended as well as survey-like questions. In all, the article accounts for the results from interviews in focus groups with 456 respondents who have applied for asylum in Sweden. Out of these, 319 people completed a written survey, before starting the interviews. The respondents came from, among other places, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Libya and Syria. The interviews have been conducted in the Swedish municipalities of Eskilstuna, Gällivare, Haparanda, Huddinge, Jokkmokk, Kiruna, Knivsta, Mora, Nacka, Orust, Oskarshamn, Stockholm, Svalöv, Trelleborg, Vindeln and Österåker. The selection of respondents was made in order to get a geographical spread from all over Sweden. To get information and contact details about available asylum accommodation, all 290 Swedish municipalities were contacted. Thirteen of the respondents had obtained their residence permit prior to being interviewed. The remaining respondents were living in an asylum accommodation, waiting for the decision on their requested residence permit from the Swedish Migration Agency. The surveys/interviews in the focus groups have been conducted in Arabic and/or Farsi/Dari and thereafter translated into Swedish and English. Over and above these interviews, to get more detailed personal accounts, which further display migrants’ understandings, we have used eight additional interviews. These interviews were conducted as part of a project in a specific municipality of Sweden. The aim of the project was to spread settlements of migrants more widely in Sweden. Still, in spite of the aim of the study, the interviewees’ answers reflected the replies in the Sweden Research study to a high degree. The smaller project included two groups: one target group and one reference group. The target group consisted of nine newly arrived non-European migrants. All except one of these were interviewed in pairs and all except one pair were interviewed through an interpreter (giving us a total of five interviews). The reference group consisted of three individuals who had immigrated to Sweden a few years before and were asked to contribute their own experiences to the project. The interviews with the reference group were conducted in Swedish. In addition to the interviews, our discussions also partly focus on different institutions’ published policy reports/articles on newly arrived migrants and the labour market in Sweden. In order to examine this body of work, we searched three institutions—the Swedish Public Employment Service; the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO, founded in 1898, with the aim to organize all national labour unions in one central organization); and the Swedish university system (we searched the publications of 40 universities/university colleges through the Diva publication database) for their work in the area. When looking for what these institutions published, we searched for reports and/or articles published in 2015 with titles including the words ‘refugee [Sw. flykting]’, ‘migrant [Sw. migrant]’, ‘immigrant [Sw. invandrare]’ or ‘newly arrived [Sw. nyanländ]’. We found nine reports and articles. We then read abstracts for all of these works and chose a subset to read in a thorough manner. When selecting this more limited sample, we embraced all reports that analysed migrants who were living in asylum accommodation or participating in the government’s introductory programmes. In all, we selected two reports for which newly arrived migrants formed a central empirical topic. The reports are: I skuggan av hög arbetslöshet—om flykting- och anhöriginvandrares arbetsmarknadsetablering (2015). The report was commissioned by the main Swedish labour union organization (LO, Landsorganisationen i Sverige) and it was written by the union’s investigator Ulrika Vedin. The report was written to give empirical impetus to discussions over how Sweden can achieve full employment in all sectors of the labour market. Perspektiv på etableringsprogrammet, hälsa och välbefinnande, Nyanlända migranters röster (2015), written by Anne-Maria Ikonen at Malmö University. The purpose of this study was to identify the factors and conditions that affect the health and welfare of newly arrived migrants by focusing on their perceptions and experiences. The study is qualitative and is based on eight focus group interviews with 40 adult men and women whose origin is the Middle East, Somalia or Afghanistan. The above-mentioned reports have been used to complement as well as add new aspects to the interview material. In addition, the reports themselves have been analysed to display the constructions of time that are structuring the temporal knowledge around migrant bodies. The analysis below embraces different temporal concepts in order to better understand the situation of precarious migrants in Sweden. Through analysing a number of reports and interviews with newly arrived migrants, we display how different instruments of governing the migrants emerge from and/or employ the control of time. It is noteworthy that, while time was not raised as an explicit issue by any of the interviewers, nor as a theme in the reports, it is a recurring topic throughout both the interviews and the reports. Migrants as a Precarious Group in Sweden Migration is cross-boundary in its nature as people move between countries to flee from persecution or in relation to family, work or studies in other countries (Migrationsverket 2015). According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the need for resettlement of people in 2016 is greater than ever before. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that some 1.2 million individuals would need this form of protection. Some of these people have crossed the border into Sweden (Migrationsverket 2016b). When the migrants have received their residence permit, the main focus is often on how to secure the basic requirements of life. The Swedish state offers several programmes in order to help people to settle into their new homeland. As we will see below, people who are allowed to stay in Sweden but who lack employment become the target of specific ‘introduction plans’ and ‘settlement programmes’, which they need to abide by in order to secure an income. After the new migrant has received her/his residence permit, she/he will meet with the Swedish Public Employment Service to talk about previous work experience, goals, interests and skills. Thereafter, the introduction plan and settlement programme are set up and an allowance is given to them as long as the migrant follows the programme (Migrationsverket 2016a). Thus, the newly immigrated are, to a certain degree, forced to fulfil the demands of the Swedish state and its subdivisions to be able to pay for their expenses. A statement from the government summarizes the state’s responsibility for introducing the job market to newly arrived refugees: •The state, via the Swedish Public Employment Service, will have a coordinating responsibility for initial settlement issues. •The Swedish Public Employment Service is required to produce a personal introduction plan (Swedish ‘etableringsplan’) together with the migrant herself/himself. This plan is based on the individual’s previous education and work experience and should always contain Swedish-language courses, civic orientation and employment-preparation activities. •An introduction benefit that is equal for everyone is paid out to all migrants actively participating in settlement programmes. The benefit is designed so that it allows the recipient to have work alongside the settlement programme. •One actor—an introduction guide—helps the newly arrived migrant to find a job. This guide is an independent actor, working under the auspices of the Swedish Public Employment Service. New arrivals are able to choose their guides themselves. •New arrivals who have an introduction plan take part in civic orientation (Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality 2011). The settlement programme always includes language courses, vocational training and other employment-related measures. Below, we primarily discuss the lives of migrants who are living in asylum accommodation, waiting for the decision from the Migration Agency on their requested residence permit, or have received their residence permit and have got their introduction plan. The migrants interviewed in this study entered Swedish territory before June 2016, when more generous migration laws were still valid. Later in 2016, however, the Swedish parliament adopted a number of legislative changes that affect asylum seekers’ possibilities to stay in Sweden. Among other things, in June 2016, the Swedish parliament adopted a new law that limits asylum seekers’ possibilities of being granted residence permits and the possibility for the applicant’s family to come to Sweden. Although these legislative changes are temporary and will only be valid for three years, it has become a major obstacle for many migrants (http://www.migrationsverket.se/English/About-the-Migration-Agency/New-laws-in-2016.html (accessed 12 December 2017)). Migrants, Precariousness and Time: An Analysis So far, the brief review of time and migrants in Sweden has fleshed out the question of precarious migrants’ understandings of their own and societies’ different temporalities and modes of governing. To explore this issue, in the next sections, we draw upon the stories we encountered in the interviews, and in different reports. We discuss the precariousness of newly arrived migrants in relation to conceptualizations of acceleration, deceleration and temporalities. The Contradictions between the ‘Unchangeable’ Other and Time as Symbolizing Change Before moving on to the experiences of those who are trying to establish themselves in Sweden—an experience that often seems inextricably linked to the governing of various agencies in a Swedish context—we will critically analyse the contents of the chosen reports. The importance of time is implicit in the terminology of all the reports. Among other things, in the texts, the word ‘nyanlända’, which means ‘newly arrived’, is repeatedly used. For example, in the report of Vedin (2015: 16), the following is stated: ‘The area of “Newly arrived” establishment stretches over several major policy areas, particularly migration and asylum policy, housing, employment and education policies’. The very wording ‘newly arrived’ indicates how the reports imbue geographical regions with time, so that one can be either new to a country or not. The concept of a ‘newly arrived’ then tells us something about space entangled with time. The migrant travelling from one place to another in the past then becomes the very base for a whole new discourse about ‘newly arrived’. An important difference is created between those who were here before and those who just recently entered the new country (space) and are now classified as ‘newly arrived’. Thus, time, as well as space, becomes implicit in the concept of ‘newly arrived’. Interwoven dimensions of time and space are ‘hidden’ in the discourses of Swedish migrants. To understand the reports and how discourses develop and revolve around migrant bodies, we must, as Adam (1998) did, acknowledge the links between time, space and matter. Time and space are not neutral or static ‘facts’, but are constitutive of and constituted by social reality (Adam 1998, 2003; Raddon 2007). Almost all the reports acknowledge that the time spent in Sweden matters in regard to the position on the labour market or in regard to housing issues. Time issues are also important in the way that the ‘newly arrived’ are organized, classified and named in the reports. Time here is addressed as ‘clock time’. Vedin describes the structure of her report: The survey is based on SCB (AKU) and thus follows that the population has been divided into five groups based on class and gender. Two groups consist of foreign-born. One includes them with up to ten years in Sweden, while the second group includes those with at least ten years in Sweden. One group consists of those born in Sweden with two foreign-born parents and one of native-born with a native-born parent …. This report, which mainly focuses on the establishment, will compare three population groups: •Foreign-born with up to ten years in Sweden, •Foreign-born with at least ten years in Sweden, and •Born in Sweden with two native-born parents (Vedin 2015: 16–17). Why the (clock) time spent in Sweden is used to such an extent to classify and define the migrants is never made explicit in the reports. Time here comes to symbolize something that is not clearly displayed or discussed. What changes are implicit in the sentence ‘at least ten years in Sweden’? Temporally grounded, taken-for-granted categories are used to separate individuals into different groups. Scholars such as Mark Turner (2004) have emphasized the plurality and diversity of times. But individuals’ divergent temporal experiences are not displayed or problematized within the reports. On the contrary, new temporalities are produced in the reports, thereafter categorizing subjects accordingly. Time, in some senses, becomes a field of cultural prejudices, where pre-made, but not problematized, conceptions of time are hidden in the texts. Time Deceleration and ‘Inadequate’ Temporalities Below, we discuss the interviews from the concepts of temporalities, deceleration and acceleration, in order to show how migrants’ temporalities are governed. We want to emphasize that we view temporal categories, and people’s understandings of time, as something that is in constant change, thus different temporalities and timescapes are to be seen as ongoing processes of negotiations and transformation. The temporal understandings of the migrated subjects seemed to be linked to and managed by different governing units in different ways. First of all, there seem to be different heterogeneous temporalities at stake. The preferred temporalities of the migrants seldom overlap with how laws and policies seek to organize the migrants’ time. While the Swedish state, the laws and policies point at one way of organizing the migrants’ time, they themselves, for different reasons, want to organize their time differently. However, these heterodox desires seem to become difficult to sustain when laws and economic incentives set boundaries to the situation. The gap between the temporal limits of the governing institutions and the temporal desires of the migrants was expressed in different ways: It is worse than I expected in Sweden. They put us in prison and ask us to wait. We are not used to be jobless or sit at home daily as we do here. They teach us to be lazy, we are not animals to accept such life (Interview, man from Syria). I heard about the long waiting time in Sweden. It is unbelievable! Each step in the process requires so long time. I thought the situation would be like what is going in Germany or the UK. But, it is not! The situation is very frustrating. I’ve lost my motivations. If time goes back again, I would not choose to come to Sweden ever (Interview, man from Pakistan). Yes, we’d like to stay in Sweden, it’s a good country! But Sweden needs to ‘open up’ to us—let us come along. I have not arrived here to just sit and do nothing. I want to work, be active, contribute to society! (Interview, woman from Palestine).2 These voices expose how time has become a field of struggle between the governed and governing. The respondent’s wishes for the future seem to be the acceleration of time. This was communicated through statements where the respondents explained how they ‘want to work, be active, contribute to society’, which can be interpreted as them wanting to accelerate social processes and settle into Sweden more quickly. However, the instruments of governing—administrative practices, policies and laws—instead seem to decelerate the migrants’ temporal experiences. Many of the interviews have been conducted with people who are living in different kinds of asylum accommodation, while waiting for the decision from the Migration Agency on their requested residence permit. In this, they express the feeling of being stopped by different barriers, which prevent them from getting settled. The time deceleration seems to be the result of various governmental policies—an outcome through which the precarious are disciplined into ‘waiting subjects’. One respondent explained why he is eager to embrace a faster pace by organizing time differently: When I speak to the staff at the Migration Agency for instance, they note that many of the newly arrived migrants are frustrated with their situation. They [the Migration Agency employees] ask: why are they angry? Why aren’t they satisfied? I would argue it’s because they [the migrants] have nothing to do. They sit around and can do nothing else than ponder old memories from home, which are often painful. They want to do more and have a lot of unspent energy (Interview, man from Syria). The migrants’ temporal wish-lists do not overlap with the temporality and time perspectives of the governing institutions. The plurality of temporal practices and expectations, which create discord, result in a situation where the migrants end up as quite frustrated. As one of the respondent argued: ‘They teach us to be lazy, we are not animals to accept such life.’ Similarly, a highly educated, middle-aged man with a recognized professional career narrates how eager he is to work and start a new life in his new country. Gradually, however, his hopes have been dashed as the situation becomes bleaker. He says: I have heard that Sweden has an acute need for medical doctors. It’s tough being idle, when I know that I am needed and want to work—but the rules don’t allow me. As a doctor, you need to practice your profession all the time in order not to relax too much and get behind. I have left my university transcripts with [name of project manager] and they have forwarded it to the proper bureaus for validation (Interview, man from Syria). Another migrant stated that it is surprising how long newly arrived migrants have been kept waiting: It’s been a great surprise to me that we have been made to wait this long. That we sit here after 1 year and 8 months and still have not started to learn Swedish! (Interview, woman from Nigeria). The above quotations imply that publically construed temporality can create frustration and despair for migrants who are eager to start afresh. There has also been some previous research that elaborates on ‘waiting’. Giovanni Gasparini (1995), for example, outlines three types of waiting as (i) blockage of action, (ii) an experience filled with substitute meanings and (iii) a meaningful experience. Likewise, Harold Schweizer argues that waiting can be a productive, rather than empty time (Schweizer 2008; see also Griffiths et al. 2013: 21). However, in our data, even the respondents who accept the waiting time do not embrace it as productive; they rather seem to discipline themselves and adapt to the temporalities implemented by Swedish institutions and accept how time is produced and ordered. One respondent said: First and foremost, people need to ‘take it slowly’! Many are stressed, want everything to go quickly and they complain when it takes time. But you must understand that this is not Syria or Iraq—it is Sweden and this is how it works here. You must understand that each municipality has many migrants to help and many are ahead of you in the queue for municipal support. If they must wait till October, people get impatient and say it takes too long. But I respond that if they [the municipalities] say October, October it is—you have to accept that, it is how Sweden works (Interview, man from Iraq). This quotation reveals an adaption to the temporal perspectives and practices of the Swedish immigration service. It is an approval of the different stages, as formulated by the Swedish state, in force at the point of arrival. At an initial state, our respondents were expected to live in asylum housing while waiting for their residence permit. Thereafter, the ordering of time in the migrants’ lives involves technologies of governing, such as the specific settlement programme, which the migrants need to follow in order to secure welfare benefits. When having their individual introduction plan produced for them, the migrants come into contact with governing institutions: the Swedish Public Employment Service and the Swedish Migration Agency, both of which act out the policies, laws and regulations of the Swedish state. Overall, not only do the instruments of governing the precarious emerge from and/or employ constructions of time, but also people who experience precariousness are disciplined against and embody the society’s perspectives on time. The ‘time of waiting’ that is illustrated in the above quotations needs to be understood in the specific context of Swedish welfare and migration policies. The precarity of migrants who experience economic uncertainties makes them exposed as well as responsive to different instruments of governing. Only people without income would submit to giving up on not only their time, but also their very understanding of time. The subject figuration that emerges in the new Swedish timescape is one who constantly feels the need to comply with the demands of the state—even if it goes against their conviction—or else they risk losing their temporary provisions. From the above, it follows that precarization for the waiting subjects is not associated with time acceleration, but rather deceleration. When the migrant has received her/his residence permit and gets into the labour market, however, another set of temporal difficulties faces the migrants. Temporally grounded, taken-for-granted categories seem to influence how potential employers view migrants. If/when migrants with less than 10 years in Sweden are offered work, they are often employed by the hour or have temporary assignments.3 Employers seem to regard foreign-born people with up to 10 years in Sweden as a buffet of reserve labour (Vedin 2015: 30, 56). It is often the case that employers consider it worthwhile to invest in employees who will be around in the future—not those who are engaged in temporary assignments. Permanent employment is central to employers’ willingness to invest in skills development, but also accountability, participation and influence at the work place (LO 2013). Various decisions of employers are then temporally grounded, where those employees who are imagined to be around in the future are invested in today. Thus, the expectations of the future then form the working tasks of the present. Temporary workers are usually given tasks that are routine in character, since employers strive to minimize the need for upskilling employees who are on temporary assignments. Overall, work tasks are adapted to the temporal order of the employer, where temporal expectations tend to shape the relationship between the employee and the employer. Working tasks and skills training are shaped from different temporal principles and expectations, which are connected to ‘permanent’ and ‘temporary’ labour. In this, not only the temporal, but also the spatial aspect matters. As Barbara Adam’s (2003) concept of timescape displays, heterogeneous approaches to time are set up in space. In this case, it is about who will attend the space, the workplace, in the future and the temporal/spatial expectations that this currently creates. Figurations and Gendered Temporalities Most of our respondents had not obtained their residence permit at the time that they were interviewed. Therefore, few reflected upon, from their specific subject position, the accelerated tempo that the introductory programmes demand. However, in the report Perspective on the Establishment of the Program, Health and Wellbeing, Newly Arrived Migrants’ Voices, the author Anne-Maria Ikonen (2015) discusses different Swedish working-life issues from different gendered and/or religious positions. By using Ikonen’s work, we surmise that the temporalities that govern migrants in Sweden are also highly gendered. Within feminist studies, the temporal aspects of gender constructions have been scrutinized particularly closely in the last two decades. Kate Weston, for example, argues that earlier gender theory ‘exalts the visual at the expense of the temporal’ (Weston 2002: 2). ‘Gender equality’ is also often considered one of the cornerstones of Swedish society; this gender equality is mainly expressed in women’s and men’s equal participation in the work force. The latter is, according to Ikonen, experienced as problematic by many of the migrant women whom she interviewed. There are women with babies, she states, who argue that good mothers should stay at home with their children, but that it is hard when you participate in the settlement programme. Ikonen exemplifies this view by quoting a Palestinian woman with three children who argued that she was a much better mother to her two oldest children when the family still lived in the Middle East, and that her youngest child now suffers from her constant absence. She stated: ‘My children hold on to me and say how much they need me. I feel like a lousy mother’ (Ikonen 2015: 212). The quotation displays how the cross-boundary situation of the woman creates a situation in which women sometimes struggle to embody the temporalities of their cultures of origin, which are challenged in the new Swedish location. The life of the woman, quoted above, gives us insight into the constraints and contradictions that the figuration of migrant women offers us: it is a figuration formed in the interplay between a Swedish and a Middle Eastern locality. The self-disciplinary practices the woman performs in relation to the different temporal norms of the establishing programme and different norms of ‘motherhood’ display the tension between different gender ideals (Braidotti 2011: 11–12). Ikonen (2015) comes to the conclusion that some respondents prioritize life goals other than those propounded by the settlement programme. Different figurations are entangled in different temporalities and, depending on what figuration you embody, time is expected to be spent on certain practices. In the quotation above, for example, certain gender norms are tied to time spent with children in private, while the public Swedish programmes for migrants demand time spent in more public venues. A similar conflict between different temporalities was created in the tension between religious subject positions and the demands of the establishing programme: One informant describes his goal as ‘to be a good Muslim,’ and several other informants agree with him. When asked how this goal can be reconciled with the establishment program, the informants state that the scheduled activities of the establishment program often get into conflict with their religious practice and it is therefore hard for them to follow the establishment program during Ramadan. … One informant stated that: ‘You know, we have to follow establishing program, to get a payment, but the religious obligation is still something quite different—it is very important’ (Ikonen 2015: 21). Overall, Ikonen’s research indicates that the settlement programme governs new migrants in a temporal sense. Still, it may be difficult for the Swedish state to employ settlement programmes that reflect the timescapes that prevail in the locations from where the migrants have emigrated. In addition, different figurations and temporal understandings should not be ‘essentialized’, but the temporalities of migrants are changing with the displacement and exile process. Or, in the words of Gadi BenEzer and Roger Zetter (2014: 18): ‘Exploring the experience of the journey can shed new light on the social and individual processes of identity formation, adjustment and transition, and settlement and integration for refugees.’ Thus, migrants are in a process of (re)socialization, often adjusting to the social codes of the new country. Still, the above indicates that the migration process, at times, entails a potential conflict between ways of organizing time—a conflict that needs to be explored further. Conclusion As stated above, precarization is not a marginal phenomenon, but describes a major social transformation in many parts of the world. In all, millions of people have become ‘precarious’; they are living under conditions that are characterized, above all, by economic uncertainty (Standing 2014). According to Standing, newly arrived migrants are particularly exposed to the new precarization. Today, many people from this group live precarious lives, stay in asylum accommodation, are unemployed or are taking a disproportionate share of jobs where they have short-term contracts or no contracts at all. Thereby, migrants in Western industrial nations often live under situations that are marked by a lack of security and illustrate precarity in its ‘uncertainty’ dimension. In this article, we have argued that the concept of time is needed in order to understand the precarious experiences of those who immigrate to Sweden. We have used different temporal concepts to show how migrant subjects are linked to and managed by discursive, managerial and professional forms of power, and how different administrative units, departments and workplaces are linked to different experiences and understandings of time. In the reports that we analysed, the amount of time that migrants have spent in Sweden is used to classify, separate and define them. Time, here, comes to signify differences and qualities that are not always made explicit. The migrants who have been in Sweden for a similar amount of time are assumed to have acquired similar qualities or life situations. There seem to be similar expectations on people who have been in Sweden for the same time span. ‘Time’ seems to have become a field of cultural prejudices. Moreover, in the analysed reports, gendered temporalities seem to colour the migrants’ understanding of being governed. Different figurations, such as the ‘migrated woman’, are sometimes entangled in temporalities, which do not overlap, but rather oppose the time schedules and temporality of the establishing programme that is used to govern the newly arrived. This makes the concept of multiple temporalities an important analytical tool. The ordering of time in migrants’ lives involves technologies of governing, such as the waiting for a decision in regard to their application for asylum and the specific introduction plans that the migrants need to follow in order to secure an income. In order to set up the introduction plan, the migrant comes into contact with the governing institutions: the Swedish Public Employment Service and the Swedish Migration Agency, which both act on the policies, laws and regulations of the Swedish state. Not only do the instruments of governing involve constructions of time and temporalities, but precarious migrants are disciplined against and sometimes come to embody the society’s perspectives on time. The temporality of the Swedish settlement programme can be read in the context of the precarity of the migrant population. To a certain extent, the programme depends on this precarity in order to work, as it assumes that the migrants have little chance to secure an alternative income. Precarious migrants accept the government’s temporalities and thereby become ‘waiting subjects’. The new migrants are categorized temporally and are ‘figured’ as people who are ‘at the start’ of becoming better settled into their new country. It is far from certain that the temporality of this figuration—waiting subject—is best suited to give migrants more secure lives. Acknowledgements We would like to thank Sweden Research and the regional project for providing us with comprehensive data as well as valuable input into the article. Footnotes 1. In this article, the concept of ‘figurations’ is related to time in order to show how precarity is lived out and how the migrants are governed. Being inspired by Braidotti’s concept of figurations, we expand her interpretations by arguing that not only ‘new’ subject positions, from a feminist standpoint, are of interest. Instead, we use a broader understanding of the concept of figurations, which allows us to analyse how precarity is experienced as well as enacted. 2. The total waiting period for asylum decisions is around 12 months in Sweden, according to the Migration Agency’s own estimate (Radio Sweden, 27 March 2017, https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/smaland/normalt-med-1-5-ars-vantan (accessed 17 December 2017)). The number of asylum seekers waiting for more than six months for decision rises by more than 70 per cent in a year in the United Kingdom (The Independent, 25 May 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/asylum-seekers-wait-six-months-more-decision-rise-80-per-cent-figures-home-office-refugee-council-a7755626.html (accessed 17 December 2017)). 3. Broadly speaking, in Sweden, there are primarily two categories of employment: permanent and temporary. 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Journal of Refugee StudiesOxford University Press

Published: Apr 20, 2018

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