Bureaucratic Capitalism and the Immigration Detention Complex

This paper argues that post-structuralist approaches to the study of immigration detention present a number of theoretical and conceptual problems. Post-structuralist analyses focusing on discourses divorced from actors present teleological problems in terms of theory. Additionally, poststructural accounts of detention centres using concepts such as homo sacer and Banoptican tend to conflate human rights and citizenship rights, which does not hold up empirically because many asylum seekers and irregular migrants still have access to legal redress. In contras, the notion of “bureaucratic capitalism” developed by sociologist Gideon Sjoberg provides an analytical framework that is both critical and non-deterministic in explaining the motives of many actors involved in detention regimes.