Is immigration bad for social cohesion?

Restrictions on immigration, as well as certain integration policies, are sometimes justified on the basis that too much, or a certain kind of, immigration risks erode social cohesion in democratic welfare states. Political philosophers who analyse the ethics of immigration have therefore become interested also in the empirical validity of these claims. This was the topic of a recent conference at the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen. Two political philosophers who presented their work at the conference joins this episode to discuss social cohesion and immigration. Nils Holtug, Professor at the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication at the University of Copenhagen, runs a major research project on shared values on social cohesion and you can read some of his work on this topic here, here and here. Patti Tamara Lenard, Associate Professor Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, has written extensively on trust, immigration and culture, especially in her book Trust, Democracy and Multicultural Challenges.

Who is a racist?

Has the debate on immigration been damaged by people too easily resorting to calling out racism? Or is it precisely racism that is at the heart of hostility towards immigration and contemporary white nationalism? Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck University of London, has argued in a recent report for Policy Exchange that there is a distinction between racism and what he calls ‘racial self-interest’. The argument has proved controversial. One critique, Dr Garvan Walshe, CEO of Brexit Analytics, advisory board member of Migration Matters and columnist for Conservative Home, joins this podcast episode to discuss what racism is and what its role in the immigration debate is. You can find Walshe’s critique here.

Should migration scholars be realistic or idealistic?

Apologies for the sound quality of this episode. We’re working to fix it!

In 1987 Joseph Carens, Professor and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, University of Toronto, pioneered political philosophy on immigration by making the case for open borders. In his most recent book, The Ethics of Immigration, he restated his case for keeping borders open. Yet some people find that this is simply too idealistic and that even political philosophers must think about what can actually be done in the real world. Carens himself discusses this, for example here and in his recent book. He joins the podcast to talk about whether, when it comes to immigration, we should be idealists or realists, or both.

Is there a way through the Balkan route?

One of the ways that refugees have tried to make it to Europe is through the so called ‘Balkan route‘. Yet as EU and European leaders have tried to shut this way by increasing border controls, many refugees and other migrants have become trapped along the Balkan route. A research team, IR and Aesthetics, from Aston University have just returned from Serbia, Macedonia and Greece, where they spoke to the people who are stuck and those who are trying to help. In this podcast episode, we hear from two of the researchers, Dr Gemma Bird and Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, who discuss how refugees use technology to stay informed about border changes, the use of graffiti to make political statements and the prospects for those trapped on their journey.

The team collected many photos and videos from the Balkan route, which are available through their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Is immigration control bad for everyone’s freedom?

Political theorists have long debated the question of open borders. Do states have a right to exclude migrants from their territory? Is there a human right to immigrate? The focus has been on the external borders of states. Yet, in the forthcoming book Immigration and Freedom, Professor Chandran Kukathas, Chair in Political Theory and Head of the Department of Government at the London School of Economics, argues that political theorists must also consider internal border controls, such as restrictions on employers, landlords and universities. According to Kukathas, these internal controls do not just restrict the freedom of migrants, but of current citizens and residents too.

Kukathas has also written about border controls and freedom here. He has also written extensively on immigration, multiculturalism and freedom, for example in his book The Liberal Archipelago.

 

Is Italy closing its ports for migrants?

Italy is one of the key destinations for migrants coming to Europe, with many coming by boat from Libya. Now Italy is threatening to close its ports to stem the inflow of migrants and refugees. Italy wants more support from the rest of the EU and EU ministers met earlier this month to discuss. But what would it actually mean for Italy to close its ports? Are these threats a result of a country becoming overwhelmed, or is it mainly a change of politics? And what is the role of NGOs operating search and rescue to save people’s lives at sea?

We’re joined in this episode by Dr Simon McMahon, who is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, and who has been part of a large project research migration to Europe over the Mediterranean, MEDMIG. Two previous episodes discuss the findings of that project: episodes 6 and 2. Simon McMahon’s research has looked at the situation in Italy and he has written a blog on ‘Italy’s bluff to close its ports‘. You can read more about his research here.

Who came during the 2015 European refugee ‘crisis’?

In 2015, a large number of refugees came to Europe in what has come to be referred to as a European refugee ‘crisis’. Now, some of the focus has shifted towards questions of integration of those who came. But who were they? One of the countries hosting many of the refugees from 2015 is Austria, and a team of researchers spent some time in 2015 interviewing over 500 of those who came, asking them for example about their educational background, attitudes and values.

Judith Kohlenberger, researcher at the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, Vienna University of Economics and Business, joins us to tell us about what they found. Find out more about the project here and read the published article about the findings here.

What do we really know about refugees?

We are told that we are currently witnessing the biggest refugee crisis sine World War Two and that the average stay in refugee camps is 17 years. But is this true? Refugee historian Benjamin Thomas White, Lecturer in History at the University of Glasgow, joins the podcast to take issue with these claims. He argues that statistics are incomplete, that our understanding of refugees’ experiences are often mistaken and that exaggerating the extent of the problem is unhelpful.

Benjamin Thomas White is a Middle East historian by background, who now teaches the history of refugees in the world since the late nineteenth century. He also does research on the global history of the refugee camp. Find more on his blog, Twitter and here about his work on refugees in Syria.

 

 

What’s so special about Canada?

Canada is the country everyone looks to for inspiration when it comes to immigration. Why? Daniel Hiebert is Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia and has written a report for the Migration Policy Institute called “What’s So Special about Canada? Understanding the Resilience of Immigration and Multiculturalism”. Daniel Hiebert has led large research projects on immigration and cultural diversity in Canada and he has, amongst many other things, participated in a variety of advisory positions in the Canadian government. He is currently a member of the Citizenship and Immigration Deputy Minister’s Advisory Council.

In this episode, he talks about this report and why we may describe Canada as a success case. You can find his website, including publications, here.

Should progressive politics be nationalist?

In a recent special issue of the open access journal Comparative Migration Studies, Will Kymlicka, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s University wrote an essay on “Solidarity in diverse societies: beyond neoliberal multiculturalism and welfare chauvinism“. He discussed the so called “progressive’s dilemma” and argued that progressives should embrace a multicultural nationalism to overcome it. Several scholars discussed Kymlicka’s thesis in shorter responses, including the special issue editor Rainer Bauböck, Professor of Social and Political Theory at the European University Institute. Buaböck takes issue with Kymlicka’s thesis, being sceptical that liberalism nationalism is the way forward for progressives. In this podcast they discuss what they think is at stake in the “progressive’s dilemma” and whether nationalism is the answer.

If it’s to serve a progressive function, nationhood needs to be configured in a multicultural direction.

Will Kymlicka

Kymlicka’s main thesis is that we need nationalism to foster a sense of social solidarity, but that it needs to be combined with multiculturalism to avoid becoming exclusionary or stir prejudice. Kymlicka is the leading scholar on multiculturalism and has written several seminal books on the topic, see for example here and here. He has also researched the progressive’s dilemma empirically.

What we need in order to get democratic support for these three goals is basically build up democratic support for social solidarity at the national level, for diversity at the local level and for keeping borders relatively open at the supranational level.

Rainer Bauböck

Bauböck is sceptical that promoting the nation can help reconcile social solidarity with support for opennesses and diversity, what he calls “the progressive’s trilemma”. Instead, he argues that we must look for political community across, below and above the nation state. Bauböck has written extensively on democratic citizenship and migration, for example here and here. He has recently edited a volume on immigrant integration.