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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I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and Johan Lindquist for his precious suggestions on an earlier version of the article, as well as the institutional support received from the Centre for International Studies (Sciences Po – CERI). I am also grateful to the useful comments received from the participants of the “Seeing Politics through Intermediation and Intermediaries” study-day organised in November 2020 at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where a draft of the article was presented.
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Puygrenier, L. Bureaucracy and the politics of time in state-business relations: Waiting to recruit migrant labour in Mauritius. Theor Soc 52, 333–352 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-022-09479-z
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