100 Comparative Advantage: Developing Better Research Strategies for the Politics of Migration and Integration in Europe

Wednesday, June 26, 2013: 9:00 AM-10:45 AM
1.15 (PC Hoofthuis)
In the last two decades, the comparative study of migration and integration has evolved from abstract theorizing and patchy evidence towards elaborate theory testing through systemic evaluation of evidence. Particularly when indicators were used to demonstrate deeper conceptions of citizenship behind nation politics did such comparative research run into trouble. The models of citizenship held up by these studies – republicanism, multiculturalism, ethnonationalism – were soon deemed in ‘crises’ as they did not appear to cope with the challenges of diversity as coherently as their abstract formulation had suggested. Moreover, their empirical grounding were found to be rather overestimated. On closer inspection, countries did not follow coherent, path-dependent, encompassing philosophies. It turned out that there are not just differences between conceptions of citizenship, but also at the same time tension over such conceptions. When aggregation of policies on various scales and over time produces rather than proves national differences, what strategies of comparison will allow us to make meaningful analyses and draw relevant conclusions? How can we develop systematic comparisons without inviting the danger of tautology? What should we be comparing and to what end? What can such comparisons tell us? And what might they tell policy makers and a wider public?

In this session, scholars of migration and integration will present their perspective on comparative research for the future. Through a recognition of the problems associated with comparative work, they are invited to further develop methods, tools and arguments that allow for meaningful comparisons across contexts, time and institutional fields. Scholars are invited to demonstrate strategies of comparison through concrete empirical work, while also drawing broader conclusions about the meaning and value of making comparisons.

Rogier Van Reekum
John Richard Bowen
Comparing what for who? Making new connections in the politics of migration and integration.
Rogier Van Reekum, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research; Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam
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