*** Apologies for Cross-Posting ***
Source: Forced Migration Discussion List.
CFP: The public and the politics of immigration policy
Special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Editor: Dr Chris Gilligan (University of the West of Scotland, UK)
One of the key assumptions in the literature on international migration is that liberal democratic states have introduced restrictive immigration controls in response to public concern or public pressure. Hollifield, for example, states that since at least the 1970s ‘almost all of the receiving states were trying to reassert control over migration flows, often using similar policies and in response to public opinion, which was increasingly hostile to high levels of immigration’ (2008: 191). Massey et al, in their magisterial work on contemporary international migration, suggest that migrants creatively respond to state’s attempts to restrict immigration by adjusting ‘their behavior in response to changes in laws, policies, and circumstances. These shifts in immigrant behavior often provoke a hostile reaction among native voters, putting public officials in a difficult position that requires them to take some action to bring immigration back under “control”’ (1998: 287).
The assumption that restrictive immigration controls are developed in response to the public needs to be interrogated. Massey et al. indicate the speculative nature of the claim that policy is a response to public pressure when they say that migration studies lacks ‘an adequate theory to account for the motivations, interests and behavior of the political actors who employ state power to intervene’ in regulating immigration (1998: 292). Scholars (e.g.: Bonjour 2011; Boswell et al 2011) have begun to open up this issue through an examination of the policy process. Boswell et al., for example, point to the increased use of ‘expert knowledge’ rather than political ideology to inform policy on immigration, but they go on to say that a ‘large part of migration policy still involves responding to popular pressures’ (2011: 7). This public input into policy is still inadequately understood.
Public opinion polls are the most common form of evidence provided to substantiate the claim that immigration controls are a response to the public. Spencer, for example, states that ‘over a third of the public [in the United Kingdom] now regularly cite race and immigration as among the most important issues facing the country’ and despite policy changes designed to restrict immigration further ‘the public is evidently far from reassured’ (2011: 1). The evidence from surveys of public opinion, however, is not as clear-cut as scholars often seem to assume. Martin, for example, points out that although opinion polls in the United States of America (USA) persistently show that most Americans think that the numbers of immigrants should be restricted ‘these same polls also show considerable support for the admission of close family members, skilled workers and refugees: the three groups that constitute the bulk of US immigration’ (Martin 2003: 132).
The concept of public opinion also involves a particular way of imagining the public. The literature on public opinion tends to infer the public impact on immigration policy from correlations between polling data and Government legislation. Our understanding of the public and the politics of immigration controls may be different if we employ a broader range of research methods and examine other stages in the policy process. Research on Latino mobilisation in the USA in 2006 against anti-immigrant legislation, for example, highlights an example of public pressure which led to the defeat of legislation aimed at restricting immigration and immigrants. The same research, however, notes that consequently attempts to restrict immigration shifted from ‘top-down’ legislative reform to implementation ‘at the federal and local levels, through raids and anti-immigrant ordinances’ (Gonzales, 2009: 54-5). Work by Statham and Geddes (2006), which has examined ‘organised publics’ (i.e. civil society organisations) using the mass media to make claims regarding asylum-seekers, suggests that the state is a key player in attempts to BOTH restrict the rights that asylum-seekers enjoy AND to protect the rights of asylum-seekers. Research on anti-deportation campaigns suggests that the implementation of policy can generate new forms of public mobilisation (Anderson et al, 2011).
The Special Issue aims to question the key assumption that liberal states have introduced immigration controls in response to public pressure through investigating the relationship between the public and the politics of immigration policy. The Special Issue aims to do this through investigating two key questions: does the public influence immigration policy?, and; does the public favour restrictions? The editor seeks articles which engage with one, or both, of these questions.
Articles can take a single country focus, or focus on a specific migration stream or provide a comparative analysis, as long as they engage with one or both of the key questions. Much of the work in this area has been based on quantitative data, such as opinion polls. The editor welcomes approaches which employ qualitative methodologies, as long as they focus on at least one of the two key questions. The answers to the questions do not have to be in the affirmative. Articles which challenge the prevailing assumptions that the public influence immigration policy and that the public favour restrictions are particularly welcome. The purpose of the Special Issue, however, is not to simply overturn the prevailing assumptions, but rather to interrogate them and provide evidence and explanatory frameworks which are able to substantiate the relationship between the public and the politics of immigration policy. The focus will be on contemporary immigration policy, but the editor welcomes articles which locate the place of the public in contemporary immigration politics in a wider historical context.
Some of the questions which contributors might like to consider are: What are the mechanisms through which the public have an influence on immigration policy (e.g. through party membership, pressure groups, constituency surgeries, public opinion polls)? Do these mechanisms for public influence vary by country? Is public input into migration policy focused in particular ways? (e.g. concentrated at border regions, or areas of high immigration; focused on particular migratory ‘streams’ (labour, asylum, trafficking, family reunion), or; related to electoral cycles)? What are the points of conflict where public input meets with resistance from politicians? What is the conception of the public which underpins the idea that the public influence immigration policy? Are there different kinds of public, and do they have different kinds of influence? (e.g. what role do ‘organised publics’, such as pro and anti-immigration pressure groups, play in policy-making?). If the public do not influence immigration policy why is there such a widely held perception that they do? If the public do not influence immigration policy what does shape immigration policy?
The assumption that restrictive immigration controls are a response to public pressure initially drew on data from the 1970s. Much has changed since then, particularly in relation to the public as political actors. Scholars (e.g.: Boswell 2009, 2011; Hampshire 2008) have suggested that a number of recent developments (such as ‘remote control’ immigration policy, discourses of managed migration, the securitisation of migration and the growth of expert knowledge in the policy-making process) have distanced immigration policy from public scrutiny. These shifts appear to be incompatible with the view that immigration controls are a response to public pressure. How can we make sense of this incongruity between policy-making ‘at a distance’ and public input? In an era of apparent widespread political disengagement, declining party membership and lower voter turnout has public input into immigration policy changed significantly? What theory, or theories, help to explain the relationship between the public and the politics of immigration controls?
The questions outlined here are indicative rather than prescriptive. The editor will consider any scholarly articles which engage with the two key questions: does the public influence immigration policy?, and; does the public favour restrictions?
Deadline for submissions:
Please submit full articles for consideration by **14th March 2013 ** to the editor at: email@example.com
(UK based academics please note, the Special Issue will not be published in time to be included in REF 2013).
All articles will undergo a three stage review process. Initially they will be screened for fit with the call and quality control. Articles which pass this stage will then go out to peer review. At the third stage, the whole collection of articles will go to the editors of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (JEMS) for final approval.
Format for submissions:
Articles should be between 5000 and 8000 words in length and should conform to JEMS house-style. For a guide to submissions see:
All submitted articles must be original and not be under consideration by any other journal. Any articles which do not conform to JEMS style will be returned for modification before being read.
Anderson, B., Gibney, M. J., & Paoletti, E., (eds), (2011), Boundaries of belonging: deportation and the constitution and contestation of citizenship. Citizenship Studies, 15(5).
Bonjour, S. (2011). The power and morals of policy makers: reassessing the control gap debate. International Migration Review, 45(1), 89–122.
Boswell, C. (2009). Knowledge, Legitimation and the Politics of Risk: The Functions of Research in Public Debates on Migration. Political Studies, 57(1), 165–186.
Boswell, C. (2011). Migration Control and Narratives of Steering. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 13(1), 12–25.
Boswell, C., Geddes, A., & Scholten, P. (2011). The Role of Narratives in Migration Policy-Making: A Research Framework. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 13(1), 1–11.
Gonzales, A., (2009). The 2006 Mega Marchas in Greater Los Angeles: counter-hegemonic moment and the future of El Migrante struggle. Latino Studies, 7(1), 30-59.
Hampshire, J. (2008). Regulating migration risks: the emergence of risk-based border controls in the UK. Sussex Centre for Migration Research Working Paper.
Hollifield, J. F. (2008). The politics of international migration: how can we “bring the state back in”? In C. B. Brettell & J. F. Hollifield (Eds.), Migration theory: talking across disciplines (2nd ed., pp. 183–237). London: Routledge.
Martin, S. (2003). The Politics of US Immigration Reform. The Political Quarterly, 74(s1), 132–149.
Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A., & Taylor, J. E. (1998). Worlds in motion: understanding international migration at the end of the millenium. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Spencer, S. (2011). The migration debate. Bristol: Policy Press.
Statham, P., & Geddes, A. (2006). Elites and the “organised public”: Who drives British immigration politics and in which direction? West European Politics, 29(2), 248–269.