The Sociology of Migration in Switzerland: Past, Present and Future

The editorial to our special issue is now available on Sciendo! The introduction to the special issue reflects on the knowledge production in the sociology of migration. We emphasise the continuous and changing challenges of knowledge production in the sociology of migration, taking a historical perspective to outline how contemporary contributions are a development of previous work. We observe an unprecedented willingness by researchers to challenge earlier perceptions of “immigrants” as a homogenous population, – something largely banished to populist political discourse these days. We identify contributions to the reflexive turn, but also and increasing focus on specific social phenomena and the dedication to finding solutions to societal challenges such as inequality or social cohesion.

Chimienti, Milena, Claudio Bolzman, and Didier Ruedin. 2021. ‘The Sociology of Migration in Switzerland: Past, Present and Future’. Swiss Journal of Sociology. 47(1):1-20. doi:10.2478/sjs-2021-0004 [Open Access]

New paper: how left-wing parties politicize immigration

I’m happy to announce another paper coming out of the SOM (Support and Opposition to Migration) kitchen. João Carvalho and I have examined the way left-wing parties politicize immigration in 7 Western European countries. Most of the literature focuses on the right, and especially the extreme right. The same changes that supposedly enable the success of the extreme right also affect parties on the left. We often see the claim that immigration has become a political dimension that cuts across (economic) left and right.

We use the political claims analysis from the SOM project (7 countries, 1995 to 2009) to examine the salience, position and overall coherence of claims mainstream parties make on immigration. We distinguish between immigration control (not letting in immigrants) and immigrant integration (how to deal with those already here). Left-wing parties come with more positive/expansive positions on immigration. Drawing on the claims analysis, we find no evidence that immigration would be a cross-cutting cleavage in the 7 countries examined. We also find that left-wing parties exhibit higher levels of coherence than centrist and right-wing parties, suggesting that they use old-fashioned left-wing ideology to deal with the potential cross-pressures around immigration.

(I’ve never hidden my regression models so well than in this paper. Table junkies find them in the online supplement.)

In a lucky coincidence, I have come across a paper by Tarik Abou-Chadi and Werner Krause taking a quite different approach to the same topic. They use differences in electoral threshold and treat those as exogenous shocks to make causal claims about how the success of the extreme right affects the party positions of other parties. You don’t need to buy into the causal claims to be excited about this analysis!

Abou-Chadi, Tarik, and Werner Krause. 2018. ‘The Causal Effect of Radical Right Success on Mainstream Parties’ Policy Positions: A Regression Discontinuity Approach’. British Journal of Political Science, June, 1–19.

Carvalho, João, and Didier Ruedin. 2018. ‘The Positions Mainstream Left Parties Adopt on Immigration: A Crosscutting Cleavage?’ Party Politics.

Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland

I had the pleasure to read Oliver Gruber‘s new book Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland. Focusing on Austria — home of the FPÖ — Oliver provides a detailed picture of party competition around an increasingly salient issue: immigration. The book is exceptional in that it starts in 1971 and thus is able to trace how the issue and party politics around it have evolved. Intriguing is for example how immigration has moved from the Greens towards the FPÖ in terms of salience, yet in terms of frames used there was no comparable shift. I will surely refer to it whenever my own research on the politicization of immigration touches Austria.

With a dual focus on party manifestos and press releases, Oliver’s results are surely robust, and with attention paid to twenty or so different subtopics and ten frames, Oliver heeds Joost Berkhout and my call to pay more attention to this level of analysis.

I was intrigued by the detailed frame analysis, and how frames were used to infer party positions. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to compare my own manifesto-based party positions with Oliver’s frames-based ones, but at first glance the different methods agree.

While it delivers on depth and attention to developments over time, the book doesn’t offer much in terms of comparison to other countries. I would have liked a full discussion of how the findings in Austria translate to other cases — especially because I am convinced there’s much to be learned. In this sense I can only recommend the forthcoming book from the SOM project, which includes Austria alongside six other Western European countries (it’ll come out soon with Routledge).

Oliver shows that the politicization of immigration is driven by party ideology and issue ownership. With developments over time covered in detail, the book will offer new insights to those interested in party competition and how the mainstream parties react to a popular challenger like the FPÖ.

Gruber, Oliver. 2014. Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland: The Politicization of Immigration and Ethnic Relations in Austrian General Elections, 1971 – 2013. Zürich: LIT Verlag. ISBN: 9783643905178

Ruedin, Didier, and Laura Morales. 2012. “Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration from Party Manifestos.” Presented at EPOP.

Ruedin, Didier. 2013. “Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration in Switzerland: Comparing Different Methods.” Swiss Political Science Review 19(1):84–105. DOI: 10.1111/spsr.12018

Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015 (forthcoming). The Politicisation of Immigration: A Comparative Study of Seven Countries (1995-2009). Routledge.