Return policies are difficult to enforce. In the Netherlands, the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) is responsible for the enforcement of return policies. Many other organisations are involved, both public and private. Caseworkers at DT&V interact with migrants who are ordered to leave, to enforce orders of return. Counsellors at private organisations assist these migrants in making their decision whether or not to depart. Little research has been done to uncover the strategies used during these interactions and the effects these strategies have. Data were gathered to analyse these strategies and their effects, using semi-structured interviews with five key informants from various organisations, and fifteen caseworkers from DT&V and counsellors from private organisations involved in repatriation. A simple categorisation of migrants with an order to leave was constructed using the dimensions of willingness and ability to return (Cassarino, 2004). Then, the strategies were analysed using three pillars of compliance derived from institutional theory (regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive) (Scott, 2014). The perceived effects of these strategies were analysed using the aforementioned concepts and the concept of legitimacy. Results show that strategies often contain both instrumental and normative elements and that instrumental elements have some effect on the ability to return. Normative elements do have some long-term effects and are more easily used by counsellors than by caseworkers. In addition, the involvement of a multitude of public and private organisations could have a positive effect as well as a negative effect on the perceived legitimacy of the return regime.

return migration, instrumental, normative, legitimacy, compliance
dr AS Leerkes, dr. M van Houte
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Sinnige, M. (2019, August 4). Strategies of return. Sociology. Retrieved from