Convergence, Centralization and Change: Immigrant Integration Policies in West-Europe, 1997-2017
Appears in the following Collection
- Institutt for statsvitenskap 
AbstractThis thesis provides novel insight into different aspects of West-European integration policies, including recent policy developments, the central-local governance and the national horizontal governance of the field. It does so by answering two overarching research questions: 1) Are West-European integration policies changing, and if so, towards what? 2) What are the drivers of change and stability in integration policies? The first article analyses if, how, and why Scandinavian integration policies converged as a result of the refugee crisis in 2015, focusing on policies of permanent residence, citizenship, family reunification, and access to social benefits. The analysis shows that in lack of a unified European solution to address the crisis, Scandinavian countries all introduced more restrictive integration policies through a mechanism of regulatory competition, or a restrictive ‘ race to the bottom’. The second article challenges a recent claim that integration policies experience a ‘local turn’ or increased decentralization, by demonstrating that the local leeway to develop local integration policies is actually diminishing. Both Denmark and Sweden have moved from a decentralized to a centralized refugee settlement model in which the central government allocates refugees to municipalities, thereby limiting local governments’ autonomy. This change implies a shift toward increased centralization of Scandinavian refugee settlement policies, with Norway as an exception. The third article presents a novel dataset, the Dataset on Immigrant Integration Governance (DIIG), which systematically documents how the integration issue has been organized at the ministerial level across 16 West-European countries from 1997 to 2017. The analysis shows that divergence and change characterize the ministerial structures of the integration issue in Western Europe. Furthermore, it demonstrates that right-oriented governments are more inclined to couple integration with immigration and/or justice than left-oriented governments are, reflecting the right’s policy preferences for restrictive integration policies. The introduction chapter combines the theoretical insights across the articles to explore the drivers of stability and change in national integration policies. The three articles test a selection of established theories in the general policy literature that has not been systematically applied in the integration literature, namely the role of crises, compromises and regulatory competition. The introduction chapter discusses how these ‘new’ theories supplement and moderate the scope conditions of the dominant theories of change identified in the current literature on immigrant integration: national path-dependency and party politics. The synthesizing analysis does not contradict that path dependency is an important explanatory factor for policy developments, but provides concrete examples of how (perceived) crises cause countries to diverge from former national paths. Party politics as an explanatory factor proves useful to explain changes in the horizontal governance of the integration issue, but fails to explain policy developments in times of perceived crisis. Furthermore, the thesis demonstrates that crises, compromises and regulatory competition lead political parties to diverge from ideological policy preferences.
List of papers
|Artikkel 1: Vilde Hernes (2018) Cross-national convergence in times of crisis? Integration policies before, during and after the refugee crisis. West European Politics, 41:6, 1305-1329, DOI:10.1080/01402382.2018.1429748. The article is not available in DUO due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2018.1429748|
|Artikkel 2: Vilde Hernes (2017) Central coercion or local autonomy? A comparative analysis of policy instrument choice in refugee settlement policies. Local Government Studies, 43:5, 798-819, DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2017.1342627. The article is not available in DUO due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2017.1342627|
|Artikkel 3: Vilde Hernes (2020) Policy preferences and ministerial structures: Immigrant integration governance in Western Europe, 1997-2017. Governance, 1–20. DOI:10.1111/gove.12481. The paper is included in the thesis. The published article is available in DUO: http://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-79839|