Women, who enter the Dutch Integration system as statushouders, slip between the cracks of the Dutch integration system. While they are problematised for not integrating well enough, no concrete policy is advised for street-level bureaucrats to implement. With the ‘absent presence’ of gender in integration policy, there is extensive room left for interpretation by integration workers. With the research question: “How do state policy and street-level bureaucrats perform gender in the Dutch integration system?”, this research aims to unravel how gender is imagined and reproduced by professionals within a policy system that lacks any systematic approach to gender. In this article, in-depth interviews with eight professionals are used to gather data for a critical analysis of street-level bureaucracy in the Dutch integration system. Together with a concise policy analysis, this research shows how the performance of gender reproduces static gendered stereotypes and contributes to further Othering of statushouders. This dependent interpretation of gender is possible due to the absent presence of gender in integration policy. As professionals working in integration consider their work to be very personal and social, they perform and reinforce gender through communicating and working within the integration system. Lastly this paper places Dutch state policy and integration work in a neoliberal perspective, in which economic participation is prioritised over social participation, enlarging gender inequality. This paper concludes with a call for reconsideration of the position of gender in policy, with the new Inburgeringswet planned for 2021 in mind.

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Maja Hertoghs, Willem Schinkel
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Zwerus, E. (2020, June 21). "I Work as I am": How do state policy and street-level bureaucrats perform gender in the Dutch integration system?. Sociology. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/61214