The author explores the sociological category of representation, especially as it is visible in national representation and in connection with the history of political refugees. Representation in the modern state, according to the author, acquires a multidimensional character of group mobilization and categorization from above by government authorities. During the July Monarchy in France, the state was thought to be separate from the social sphere and was not interested in defining who was a foreigner and stringently separating them from citizens. According to the law of 1832, only those refugees who were assisted by the state economically were specifically defined as foreigners and proof had to be presented that they were “real” refugees. Social support provided to refugees led to their categorization as such. In post-World War II Europe, refugee became a juridical category defined by international conventions. This universal definition was in conflict with the institutionalized “sovereign people” and its system of social welfare. Using regimes of identification and limiting national welfare programs, modern national states also limit the definition of “refugee” at will. As a result, refugees constitute a social category because they do not participate in the social work that leads to their constitution as a group. They remain, essentially, an object of government policies.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 35-68
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.