Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
Chapter 21: The governance of migration beyond the state
International migration has attracted significant scholarly attention and inspired often vociferous public debates. Yet it is striking that in both academic and policy discussions the state is still commonly assumed to constitute the most appropriate level of analysis. Such a focus might appear intuitively plausible because regulating geographical access and citizenship are considered to be the primary prerogatives of the modern state. Generally speaking, the right to regulate migration flows is jealously guarded by states. In addition to enduring lock-in effects and significant path-dependency, there are significant political implications in abandoning control over a highly politicised and often controversial policy domain, or even in being perceived as doing so. Much of the existing scholarship in political science reflects this concentration on the state as the primary arena of migration policy. An ontological and methodological bias towards focusing on idiosyncratic national models of immigration and integration also still lingers, often obscuring from view the commonalities in migration regulation between countries with similar levels of socio-economic development. These 'stamps, coins and flags' approaches, for all their empirical richness, may impede meta-level attempts at theorising migration regulation, inflating the importance of national idiosyncrasies. Furthermore, the state is commonly undertheorised and simply taken for granted. Interestingly, the neo-Marxist accounts of migration from the 1970s (Castles and Kosack 1973; Castells 1975) were much more advanced in this regard, critically reflecting on the role of the state and the motivations underlying its involvement in migration regulation.
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