Welcome to a 20% PhD seminar with Johan Ekstedt, PhD Candidate, Malmö University.

Frontline bureaucracy theory and the study of European and international forced migration management agencies


This thesis is an empirical investigation into how inter-governmental or supranational organizations working with refugees in Europe today use norms and values to deal with discretion under conditions of goal ambiguity. The main delimitation of the study is thus European Union (EU) and United Nation (UN) bodies, operating on the behalf of the EU or EU-member states in the field of forced migration. Particular focus is given to frontline bureaucracies working in morally complex and ethically contested aspects of the European asylum system.

The study is situated in the small but growing literature on frontline bureaucrats and international organizations. More broadly, it is a contribution to the study of frontline bureaucrats and migration and the political science literature on bureaucracy.

In this 20% seminar, the core theoretical and methodological tenants of the thesis will considered. The empirical aspects of the study will be exemplified by a closer look at the Assisted Voluntary Return programs administered by the International Organization for Migration, and some preliminary hypotheses and working assumptions will be presented.

Short bio

Johan Ekstedt has a BA in political science and history from the University of Birmingham and a MA in comparative politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His primary areas of interest are nationalism, national identity, migration and diversity. His previous work experience includes the Swedish Migration Agency and International Organisation for Migration in Iraq, as well as smaller NGOs and independent research groups in Greece.