Listen below to the Research Seminar given by Alex Balch on November 3, 2009. We also encourage you to subscribe to our podcast to automatically receive audio of all CCIS research seminars.
Alex Balch – Managing Labour Migration in Europe: Ideas, Knowledge, and Policy Change
Labour migration policies in European countries have exhibited intensive change in the early part of the 21st century while the subject continues to be a hot political topic with global resonance. Dr Balch focuses on this new era of labour migration management in Europe and presents research into the key ideas which have changed the way that policymakers look at the issue. The paper presents empirical evidence from two case studies – the UK and Spain (two of the major labour importers within the EU), and charts why, when and how paradigm shifts occur.
Understanding the so-called ‘war of ideas’ in the political arena and accounting for policy change are among the key challenges for political science. The approach taken here is to take a step back and place labour migration policy in a theoretical conception of the policymaking process and policy change. In this way, rather than denouncing policymakers as irrational, incompetent (or even racist) the research attempts to show what kinds of ideas and knowledge actually shape and frame policy in the new era of migration management in Europe.
Alex Balch is a guest scholar, CCIS and an Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield (UK). His work is on analyzing the impacts of ideas and knowledge on labour migration policies. It addresses the observation that we often know very little about the flow of ideas and knowledge in the policy process, and what actually drives politicians and policymakers to make decisions about immigration. He is also currently developing projects examining organizational implementation and delivery chains in border control policies, and media framing of policy debates. Part of the fellowship includes funding for an overseas institutional visit at CCIS which will allow Dr. Balch to develop his research by adding extra depth in terms of a comparative perspective on the European context through reference to the U.S.