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Centre of Migration Research

Monika Szulecka. 2016.

Paradoxes of formal social control. Criminological aspects of foreigners’ access to the Polish territory and labour market


Biuletyn Polskiego Towarzystwa Kryminologicznego im. prof. Stanisława Batawii, nr 23 | pages: 79-95.



The aim of the paper is to present selected results of the analysis of the impact of migration policies in the context of development of such criminal phenomena as organising irregular migration or document fraud linked to it. One of the elements of the analysis was the identification of mechanisms of formal social control in reference to the example of functioning of a simplified system aimed at controlling foreigners’ access to the labour market in Poland. In practice, the system has brought also consequences in the form of breaches of penal law. Paradoxically, in the Polish case not more restrictions, but simplifications in the area of foreigners’ access to the labour market have determined in recent years the landscape of irregular migration. Due to the character of the recognised (administrative or penal) law infringements, the phenomenon may be rather called semi-legal or half-legal migration, since its specificity is the apparent compliance with the laws on entry, stay or work of foreigners, and the simplified procedure of admitting foreigners to the labour market can be helpful in this respect. However, more in-depth reflection allows for identification of law infringements within these actions, which may stem from ambiguous or incomplete legal norms. The differences in perceptions of the abuses of the simplified system of employing foreigners and in responses to them identified in the qualitative study lead to the conclusion that formal social control sometimes contributes to the development of negative phenomena, although the expected result of it is preventing them.


formal social control, foreigners’ access to the labour market, irregular migration, document fraud, abuses of immigration rules