Home Sociology Integration Processes and Policies in Europe
Researchers, analysts, and policymakers continue to struggle in comprehending the nature of the multiple relationships between migration, development, and integration. As we have seen, at least three obstacles stand in the way of a mature and nuanced understanding: problems of definition and measurement of all three phenomena; ideological positions that are impossible to reconcile; and the conflicting and hence inconclusive nature of the empirical evidence, too much of which is based on narrowly defined case studies. The way forward is not easy to identify. Migration, (under)development, and (non-)integration are all “facts of global life”, which are not easily managed towards desired positive outcomes, except perhaps at a fairly local level. Individual linkages, for instance, between emigration and homecountry development or between different models of integration and willingness to invest time and resources in developing hometown communities, are difficult to isolate within the matrix of collateral processes such as economic cycles, different and dynamic host-country politics, and the new post-9/11 security environment. The mid-2014 round of European and local elections, furthermore, was marked by a sharp rise in voters' support for anti-immigration parties in some countries (particularly the UK, France, and Greece). In an increasingly xenophobic climate, rhetoric obscures analysis, and migration's potential contribution to home-country development is pushed to the background.
Proponents of the virtuous-circle view of M&D thus find themselves squeezed between those who call ever-louder for migration control and those who criticize the entire edifice of the M&D nexus in the neoliberal era and are moving the pendulum towards its fourth, neo-pessimistic swing (Delgado Wise and Márquez Covarrubias 2011; Gamlen 2014; Kunz 2008; Page and Mercer 2012; Raghuram 2009). A key question thus becomes how to stop the pendulum swinging. An obvious answer is to move towards a more rigorous evaluation of existing research evidence, downgrading the significance of small-scale case studies and privileging larger scale and especially comparative studies. Even so, challenges remain, given the diversity of types of migration (e.g., short and long term, high and low skilled) and of historical and geographical contexts. Undoubtedly, there is more scope for analysis of global-scale socio-economic datasets and migration variables related to development outcomes (e.g., Czaika 2013; Ngoma and Ismail 2013; Sanderson 2013) and perhaps also of socio-economic and legal-political integration variables.
The way forward is also for more collaboration and cross-fertilization to take place across three main areas of scholarship and policymaking that hitherto have not spoken much to each other: those who study migration as a process of transnational movement; those who study development; and those who study integration and social cohesion. This conversation needs to take place across disciplines, between those with research and policy experience in different parts of the world, and at multiple scales of analysis, from the global down through the regional (such as the EU), to countries, cities, communities, and households.
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