Out now: Politicising Immigration in Times of Crisis — or how to measure the impact of a crisis when we don’t agree when the crisis was

I’m happy to announce a new publication in JEMS on politicizing immigration in times of crisis. Especially so, as it is the ‘first one’ for two of my excellent co-authors!

The basic setup is quite simple, we look at data on the politicization of immigration — our update on the SOM project. It’s a broad understanding of politicization, looking at how different actors (broadly defined) talk about immigration and immigrant integration. We use claims-analysis using printed newspapers as the basis, which allows us to compare the situation over time. We then examine how the nature of politicization differs during times of crisis compared to non-crisis periods.

We have N=2,853 claims to examine, the oil crisis of the 1970s and the financial crisis of the late 2000s as two external crises not directly related to immigration. Theoretical considerations provide us with expectations of how claims-making during periods of crisis differs qualitatively: we look at salience (how many claims are made), polarization (the positions taken in claims), actor diversity (who makes the claims), and frames (how claims are justified).

And then you sit down to define the crisis periods… we started with discussions in the team, soon realizing that we don’t agree. Then we went to the literature, trying to find a more authoritative definition of when these crises started and ended. And then we fully embraced uncertainty: basically there is no agreement on when these crises stared or ended. The solution is also relatively simple: we just used all the possible definitions (a bit of combinatorics there…) and run separate regression models. 7,524 of them to be precise. The nice thing with that is that you really have to embrace uncertainty, and that graphs really are more intuitive than any arbitrary measure of central tendency.

Yes, you get things that are fairly obvious (we can quibble about effect size):

Sample effect size; grey dashed line on right indicates zero; blue dashed line on the left indicates the median coefficient across all the regression models.

and you get things that are simply unclear, with values around zero quite credible, but would you bet against en effect size of +0.05 or -0.05?

Sample effect size; grey dashed line on left indicates zero; blue dashed line on the right indicates the median coefficient across all the regression models.

What I really like about this kind of presentation is that it naturally embraces our uncertainty about the state of things. Yes, “crisis” is vague as a concept, yes, it is difficult to operationalize it (otherwise we would not run 7,524 regression models), but we still can discern systematic patterns of how the politicization of migration in times of crisis differs from non-crisis moments.

Bitschnau, Marco, Leslie Ader, Didier Ruedin, and Gianni D’Amato. 2021. “Politicising Immigration in Times of Crisis: Empirical Evidence from Switzerland.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Online First. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1936471. [ Open Access]

Parallel Universes

Two recent books examine the politiclization of migration in the news in Europe. It’s great to see different takes on this important topic, but having contributed to an earlier similar study with an extensive study of how the media report immigration, it struck me how much we’re working in parallel universes. The excellent REMINDER project managed to go 3 years without discovering the work by Van der Brug et al., the equally excellent TransSOL project did find it. Both H2020 projects start in 2015, after the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, whereas Van der Brug et all covered 1995 to 2009. Should we count this as a failure to publicize the work, or are we simply looking at parallel universes where each universe prolifically produces new knowledge…?

Cinalli, Manlio, Hans-Jörg Trenz, Verena K. Brändle, Olga Eisele, and Christian Lahusen. 2021. Solidarity in the Media and Public Contention over Refugees in Europe. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2021.

Strömbäck, Jesper, Christine E. Meltzer, Jakob-Moritz Eberl, Christian Schemer, and Hajo G. Boomgaarden. 2021. Media and Public Attitudes Toward Migration in Europe: A Comparative Approach. Routledge.

Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015. The Politicisation of Migration. Abingdon: Routledge.

The PRIO Guide to Migration Journals

This deserves more attention that ‘just’ a tweet! The PRIO guide to migration journals is now live: https://migration.prio.org/Journals/

It’s a guide of 29 migration journals you might want to consult once in a while if you consider publishing in migration journals.

What do you get?

The first thing you’ll notice is a list of (currently) 29 migration journals — with a relatively broad understanding of ‘migration’. As is probably necessarily the case, we can quibble about the inclusion of journals in such a list, but in my view the PRIO guide provides a pretty good overview of the publishing options. Having such a list in itself is greatly useful.

For a slightly different list of migration journals, you can consult the excellent list provided by our Documentation Centre: http://www.unine.ch/sfm/home/library/revues-liees-a-la-migration.html

It doesn’t stop here, though, far from it! For each of these 29 journals, you get a detailed portrait that should help you decide whether the journal is a suitable outlet for your research. The headings included are relevant for researchers, and I really like how they managed to provide information about the impact factor without listing it (or other similar measures). (unlike my blunt summary here).

Perhaps the most useful part (but also the most difficult one, thus possibly also the one where we might not always agree) is at the end, where they have picked typical articles. On the one hand, this saves you a trip to the journal website to check recent publications. On the other hand, it doesn’t entirely answer the question of what kind of research do they typically publish? I guess that’s the question we’re asking, but also one which is very difficult to answer when the common factor is the topic (migration) and not the methodology or something like that. In that sense, three articles can never do justice of the diversity of articles in IMR or JEMS, for example.

If open access is a concern for you, the end of the guide nicely summarizes the open access status. This doesn’t include (how could it possibly?) national agreements with publishers.

If Because impact is probably one of your concerns, there’s a nice summary at the end. I really like it how they avoided impact factors of Scimago rankings, yet still provide you with a general idea of ‘impact’ — and with that ‘prestige’.

What don’t you get?

You don’t get journals that publish a lot on migration but are not focused on migration, like some demography journals. The selection of journals is nicely documented, so no quibbles there! You also don’t get journals without peer review — but that’s definitely a good thing!

You don’t get impact factors (that’s probably a good thing), but you also don’t get information about the peer review — that’s a factor many early career researchers (have to) take into consideration. Luckily, we have SciRev for this. While journals have the relevant information about turn-around time or rejection rates, they tend not to publish them in a systematic way — it’s more like advertising: journals often highlight those aspects they do ‘well’. With SciRev, everyone can review the review process, and there are also short comments that can be quite insightful. There are other such guides, like some wiki pages, but SciRev is the only one I know with a systematic procedure, and speaking of migration journals, the only one that spans different disciplines!

One thing that a generic guide like the PRIO guide will struggle to do is capture the prestige of journals in different circles of researchers. This is linked to the question of what kind of research typically gets published in the journals, and can be quite different to impact factors or Scimago rankings… not that a Q4 journal in Scimago will be considered high prestige by some, though. I guess there’s still value in ‘asking around’ a bit.

If you need more information about ‘green’ open access, there’s still https://v2.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/

Hiring: Postdoctoral Researcher

We have an open position for a

Post-Doctoral Researcher (30 months, 80% FTE)

The start date will be 1 September 2021 or as agreed. The successful applicant is expected to contribute to a research project on the long-term impact of refugee shocks on the labour market, health, reproductive behaviour, well-being, and attitudinal outcomes of the resident population (quasi-experimental setup).

Requirements: You have completed a doctorate in one of the social sciences (preferably economics; sociology, or political sciences). Excellent knowledge of quantitative methods is required (preferably Stata or R). The project uses register data, as well as data from the Labour Force Survey, the Swiss Health Survey, post-election surveys, and results from selected referendums and popular initiatives. You are open to collaborate in an inter-disciplinary team. Experience in the analysis of register data, matching datasets, experimental methods and a keen interest in immigration, health, or labour market outcomes are an asset. Excellent written and oral command of English is required; knowledge of French or German is an asset.

You will be attached to the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies at the University of Neuchâtel (http://www.unine.ch/sfm/) and will join a team in economics, sociology, and demography. An affiliation to the national centre of excellence NCCR on the move (https://nccr-onthemove.ch/) is possible and will open up exchange with other postdocs and researchers across the country.

Benefits: The salary is in accordance with the university guidelines (https://www.unine.ch/srh/post-doctorant-e-s-fns). There is a budget for conference participation, and we will support you develop your own research agenda.

Employer: The position is based at the University of Neuchâtel. The University of Neuchâtel is an equal opportunities employer. Qualified women and candidates with a migration history are encouraged to apply.

Submitting application: Applications (letter of intent, CV, names of two referees, a relevant research paper as a writing sample) should be submitted as a single PDF to didier.ruedin@unine.ch (also for queries). The position is open until filled; for full consideration, apply by 15 June 2021.