PUBLI : Lucas Puygrenier, « Bureaucracy and the politics of time in state-business relations : Waiting to recruit migrant labour in Mauritius », Theory and Society , 2022


Time is money. Accor­ding to E.P. Thompson, this saying lies at the core of the logic of capi­ta­lism. And yet, in the vast lite­ra­ture on state-capital rela­tions, the stra­tegic value of time has remained rela­ti­vely neglected compared to rent distri­bu­tion and mone­tary exchanges. Elabo­ra­ting on the recruit­ment of migrants by employers and their inter­me­dia­ries in Mauri­tius, this article explores the role of bureau­cratic time and delays in busi­nesses’ access to the funda­mental resource for economic accu­mu­la­tion : labour. It reveals a bifur­cated bureau­cratic pathway, a two-speed logic in the Mauri­tian bureau­cracy of migra­tion. On one side is the lengthy and unpre­dic­table process of admi­nis­te­ring the autho­ri­sa­tions to recruit foreign workers ; on the other appear what I term the “short­cuts through the red tape”, the exemp­tions to the bureau­cratic proce­dures and delays that benefit poli­ti­cally connected actors. Drawing on this case study, I contend that the poli­tics of waiting, inherent to bureau­cratic routine, matters in the rela­tions between busi­ness and the state.

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