This article uses a bottom-up perspective to highlight how a non-state actor has capitalised on discretionary power to shape regularisation practices of the state. Based on two years of ethnographic data, this case study describes key interactions between state and civil society actors in the field of governing undocumented youths in Paris. A three-step process has enabled a civil society network, whose mission is to regularise undocumented youth and their families in France, to become an effective collective actor in the governance of undocumented youths. This network uses its embeddedness in schools to link youths with social, bureaucratic, and political resources. Local alliances with governmental and other civil society actors, along with specialised knowledge about legal residence, give the network legitimacy and expertise. The network leverages their position to negotiate for visas with the Paris Prefecture. The resulting civil society exchange between the network and state actors empowers the network in governance of undocumented youth. These findings speak to how non-state actors may use agency in the complex governance of contemporary migration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Undocumented youths
- civil society
- immigrant rights