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Front-line officials and mediations for access to social and health benefits of immigrants in the commune of Independencia

Daniel Palacios (Principal investigator), Rolando Poblete (co-investigador), Carolina Rojas (Research consultant)

Carolina Rojas’ participation as a research consultant allowed NDE to became part of the team of a project financed by the internal I-D-I competition of UCEN, directed by Daniel Palacios, researcher of said university. This study observed how access to social services for immigrants in Chile is determined by the mediations of the central level guidelines that are produced at the local level based on the relationship established by direct care officials from local levels with the immigrants. This research was interested in understanding, at the local level, the role that front-line officials play in the production of interactions, practices, and daily dynamics of attention of immigrants, transforming them in the producers of social assistance policies. We sought to produce a sociology of administration or assistance, following the classic line of work, inaugurated by M. Lipsky (1980) and currently worked on by V. Dubois (2003) in France. The study looked at two levels: first, it explored the assistance relationship of CESFAM and a municipal social assistance department, and second, it studied the level of the rationalities that operate in the practice of interventions and interactions. A qualitative methodology is used and is based on the ethnographic observation of waiting spaces and the admission to two assistance services. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with front-line officials who are responsible for establishing the institution’s first contact with immigrants when they arrive for the services.