Table of Contents

Handbook on Migration and Social Policy

Handbook on Migration and Social Policy

Edited by Gary P. Freeman and Nikola Mirilovic

In this detailed Handbook, an interdisciplinary team of scholars explores the consequences of migration for the social policies of rich welfare states. They test conflicting claims as to the positive and negative effects of different types of migration against the experience of countries in Europe, North America, Australasia, the Middle East and South Asia. The chapters assess arguments as to migration’s impact on the financial, social and political stability of social programs. The volume includes comprehensive reviews of existing scholarship as well as state of the art original empirical analysis.

Chapter 1: The ‘epistemic turn’ in immigration policy analysis

Christina Boswell

Subjects: politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, welfare states


Theories of public policy have undergone something of an ‘epistemic turn’ over the past decade, and immigration policy analysis has been no exception to this trend. Numerous contributions have explored the role of expert knowledge and research in immigration and integration policy making, and in public political debate. This chapter will explore this epistemic turn, examining its origins, key findings and the implications of this type of analysis for immigration policy studies. The chapter begins by considering some of the reasons for the new focus on the role of knowledge in policy, a preoccupation that is shared by researchers spanning the fields of political science, international relations, sociology, and science and technology studies. The chapter then goes on to review some of the recent literature on the role of knowledge in immigration policy, and outlines the main findings. Most studies have concluded that research plays a very limited role in public debate and policy making in this area, although there are some differences between countries, across sub-areas, and over time. The chapter examines some of the possible reasons for the neglect of research in immigration policy. It argues that, in order to understand this finding, we need more thorough cross-sectoral analysis to identify what distinguishes immigration policy from other policy areas. I will suggest some of the dimensions of policy areas that might account for cross-sectoral variation. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the role of cross-sectoral comparison in immigration policy research.