The Neoliberal Asylum. The Ausbildungsduldung in Germany: Rejected Asylum-Seekers Put to Work between Control and Integration


  • Elena Fontanari Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan



refugees, deservingness, neoliberal welfare, vocational training, Germany


This paper discusses the regulation of the Ausbildungsduldung implemented in Germany in 2016 to integrate rejected asylum-seekers through vocational training into the labour market. I here intertwine the literature of neoliberal welfare state with the theories of border studies to understand the intersectionality of race and class in the lives of refugees put to work. Drawn on ethnographic fieldwork from 2016 to 2020 with refugees and practitioners, I shed light on a moral economy of deservingness underpinning the Ausbildungsduldung and affecting its implementation as well as the process of construction of the self negotiated by refugees during the vocational training. The analysis of the discursive, formal, and subjective dimensions of the Ausbildungsduldung shows how the control feature prevails over the integration aim. This pushes refugees into a legal, social-economic, and existential precarity that is institutionally produced. To be integrated, refugees have to prove their worthiness by embodying the ideal migrant: a good worker with a "Beruf" (profession) in the low-paid sectors of the German economy. Ultimately, this paper addresses the concept of "Neoliberal Asylum" to discuss how the Western states use the category of "deservingness" as moral criteria to guide the juridical measures to govern refugees through their economies.


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How to Cite

Fontanari, E. (2022). The Neoliberal Asylum. The Ausbildungsduldung in Germany: Rejected Asylum-Seekers Put to Work between Control and Integration. Sociologica, 16(2), 117–147.