Virtual Special Issue: Immigration and Integration West European Politics

West European Politics

The themes of immigration and immigrant integration have long been central to West European Politics. Issue 2 of 1994 was a Special Issue devoted to the subject of immigration to which we returned with another Special Issue in Volume 29 Issue 2 of 2006. Throughout this time, many issues related to immigration and immigration policy have figured in the pages of the journal, and the list of articles included here attempts to pick up some of the key themes related to attitudes and beliefs, policy and politics.

Chris Wright looks at the path dependence of immigration policies. The supposed rigidity of immigration politics is scrutinized through a systematic process analysis of developments in the United Kingdom, where the Blair government confounded the UK's characterization as a ‘reluctant immigration state’ to implement various liberal work visa reforms. The uncoordinated nature of policymaking and implementation, and the limited involvement of state and societal institutions in the reform process help to explain the subsequent reintroduction of strict visa controls. The case demonstrates that policy legacies indeed play a significant role in defining the character of the policymaking institutions that shape a state's immigration politics.

Clearly, politics is central to the analyses in the journal. Akkerman investigates the direct influence of radical right parties on immigration and integration policies by comparing the output of 27 cabinets of varying composition in nine countries in the period between 1996 and 2010. The quantitative analysis makes clear that although parties matter, radical right parties do not matter in particular. A case by case analysis confirms that the direct impact of radical right parties on policy output has been severely limited by the difficulties these parties face in adapting to public office. Hampshire and Bale look at the impact of parties using the single case of the UK. Process tracing allows them to uncover complex dynamics often lost in large-n studies and they illustrate how parties in government can have more of an impact on policy than previous studies acknowledge.

When it comes to immigration policy, reflecting a traditional focus of the journal on the importance of different stages of the policy process, Antje Ellermann’s piece questions the common assumption that European states adopt immigration policies that are more liberal than those favored by their publics. Rather, the article argues that when it comes to the implementation rather than formulation of immigration policies, bureaucrats often find themselves confronting local publics opposed to the strict enforcement of migration control measures

Baldi and Wallace Goodman consider another aspect of public policy, namely the different ways in which European states go about attempting to turn ‘outsiders’ into ‘insiders’ and underlining how membership remains a core imperative of the contemporary nation state. Sara Wallace Goodman asks why some states in Western Europe have adopted integration-from-abroad requirements including tests and language courses and argues that these represent a deliberate and increasingly effective instrument for immigration control – specifically family unification and formation, as the positive, politically acceptable language of integration and inclusion are deployed to achieve potentially objectionable and discriminatory outcomes of exclusion.

Still on the theme of immigrant integration, Karreth, Singh, Stojek investigate the relationship between exposure to immigrants and attitudes towards immigration. Using data from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, they argue that increasing and visible diversity is associated with negative attitudes toward immigrants, but only among natives on the political right. Guiraudon looks at the situation of migrants and their descendants in European labor markets focusing in the role of policy paradigms and institutional hurdles in accounting for cross-national cross local and cross-sectoral variation in labor market outcomes.

Ersanilli and Koopmans investigate claims made about the effects of immigrant integration policies on immigrants' retention of their ethnic cultures and their adoption of the host country's culture. Finally, Karen Schönwälder emphasizes the sub-state determinants of immigrant political incorporation into parliamentary positions through an analysis the regional parliaments of Germany’s 16 states. Interactions between demographic, institutional, cultural and political conditions are shown to account for different levels of immigrant representation in Germany’s state parliaments.

West European Politics

We hope you will enjoy this virtual special issue. All the articles here are free to view until 31 December 2016.

Free access is only available via this page, so don't forget to bookmark this link.