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 Politicization of Immigration in Portugal between 1995 and 2014: A European Exception?

Out now, an extension of the SOM project to Portugal.

Notwithstanding the doubling of the foreign population settled in the country in the early 2000s, the diminished salience and the absence of significant political conflict suggest that immigration failed to become politicized in Portugal.

Happy to see this published, and excellent to see my figures in print so that we can directly compare the results for Portugal with the other seven countries in the original SOM project and the SOM book.

Carvalho, João, and Mariana Carmo Duarte. 2020. ‘The Politicization of Immigration in Portugal between 1995 and 2014: A European Exception?’ JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.13048.
Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015. The Politicisation of Migration. Abingdon: Routledge.

Guest Blog at Media Portrayals of Minorities Project

I am happy to announce a guest blog of mine over at the Media Portrayals of Minorities Project.


The blog post draws heavily on the SOM book and my paper in the Austrian Journal of Political Science. If that’s all old news, you should just check out the other posts from the project! If you’re interested in the role of left-wing parties in politicizing immigration, we’ve got you covered, too.

Carvalho, João, and Didier Ruedin. 2018. ‘The Positions Mainstream Left Parties Adopt on Immigration: A Crosscutting Cleavage?’ Party Politics. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068818780533.
Ruedin, Didier. 2017. ‘Citizenship Regimes and the Politicization of Immigrant Groups’. Austrian Journal of Political Sciences 46 (1): 7–19. https://doi.org/10.15203/.1832.vol46iss1.
Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015. The Politicisation of Migration. Abingdon: Routledge.

Who is an author?

This comes up in discussions from time to time, but guess what you’re not the first to wonder. Here are the guidelines we used in the SOM project. Our IP policies had the following section:

Who is an Author?
When writing and publishing a piece, every individual mentioned as a co-author is co-responsible: all authors are fully responsible for the contents and stand behind the contents. They should be able to defend the paper as a whole (not necessarily technical details). Only the following can be named authors:

    individuals who have contributed substantially to the specific question and the research plan (conception and design of research)
    individuals who carried out the research (data processing, data analysis)
    individuals who substantially contributed to the interpretation of results
    individuals who drafted the manuscript (including drafting substantial sections, such as a literature review, or a results section)
    individuals who critically reviewed the manuscript, leading to substantive changes

The following are not named as authors:

    individuals who were only involved in data collection
    individuals who provided or secured funding
    individuals who just read the manuscript
    honorary authorship

Multiple Authors
Where there are multiple authors, authors are listed by relative contribution (Lake 2010). In addition, authors are encouraged to include a short statement (e.g. as footnote or at the end of the article) indicating the division of labour between the co-authors. Such a statement should also be included where the contributions are equal. Authorship and other credits are included in early drafts of papers to help resolve any future disputes.

For articles based on the thesis or dissertation of a student, students should normally be the first author.

If no clear differences can be determined, authors are listed in alphabetical order.

We even had the following: “Where authors cannot agree on who made the most significant contribution or other aspects of authorship, disputes are referred to the managing board minus involved parties. The board considers the main contribution of the paper to the literature to determine which contributions are considered more significant. If the dispute cannot be resolved by the managing board, the managing board will appoint a neutral third party.” — but this was never needed.

D. Lake, “Who’s on first? Listing authors by relative contribution trumps the alphabet,” PS: Political Science & Politics 43, no. 1 (2010): 43-47.

The entire section was introduced with the following footnote: “This section is based on J. Reemtsma, “Regeln zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis am Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung” (Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung, 2009); and BSA, “Authorship Guidelines,” The British Sociological Association, 2001, http://www.britsoc.co.uk/Library/authorship_01.pdf.”