New Guest Worker Regimes?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This chapter asks whether guest-worker policies in the twenty-first century can be considered as regimes. In doing so, it assesses the state of guest-worker policies (or temporary migrant worker programmes – TMWPs) at the level of the European Union, and in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Resting loosely on a social transformation perspective, it argues that there is evidence of neo-gastarbeiter policies that can be distinguished from the gasterbeiter policies of Fordist years on several grounds: first, there is the wide range of skills required, including the recruitment of ‘medium-skilled’ migrants such as nurses into European health systems; second, and relatedly, the diversity of skills produced and called for by changing political economies, are refracted through complex forms of administration that we might associate with ‘migration management’, which are vastly different from the laissez faire and poorly administered guest worker policies of the post-war period. Third, they may be distinguished through the effects of EU institutional programme design. In other words, the Blue Card and the seasonal migrant worker directive (SMWD) suggest that TWMPs are slowly shaping member state TWMPs both at the ‘low end’ and the ‘high end’ of the skill spectrum. In this respect, the Blue Card and the SMWD might even represent a nascent guest worker regime in the twenty-first century. Nonetheless, we could hardly refer to national TMWPs or guest worker policies as regimes, but rather must regard them as a set of ever-shifting policies and programmes in response to changing political economies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIMISCOE Research Series
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameIMISCOE Research Series
ISSN (Print)2364-4087
ISSN (Electronic)2364-4095

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.


  • European Economic Area
  • Labour Shortage
  • Migrant Worker
  • Work Permit
  • Work Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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