Al Qaeda, bureaucracy and migration as scalar intersection

By: XIANG Biao, University Lecturer in Social Anthropology

What do CNN, Al Qaeda and Facebook have in common?

CNN is powerful. What is the basis of its power? The corporation has money, buildings, people, equipment, brand and political connections. But so do many other companies. Local media is likely to report events in the particular place faster and better. The power of CNN lies to a great extent with its operational scale—its capacity of mobilizing resources, coordinating reporters and producing images across the world simultaneously. This enables it to claim global authority.

Video wall of flat tv screens with world mapIn this sense CNN may have portrayed Al Qaeda as the mirror image of its own. Al Qaeda’s prowess did not stem from the money, ideology and weaponry that it possessed, but instead from the circulation of resources, messages and emotions that it coordinated and was embedded in. Similarly, Facebook possesses no power, but is tremendously powerful. As long as there is electricity and as long as the Internet is working, Facebook enables people in different places to inform each other, to form new units of consciousness and actions, and thus to achieve new emergent scales.

What’s common behind them is the “emergent scale”. Emergent scale is the scope of coordination and mobilization that arises from collective actions that in turn generates new capacity for the actors. Migration matters not because bodies move, but because migrants create emergent scales across administrative boundaries, and therefore acquire capacities that cannot be contained by the established system.

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Ten features of labour immigration policies in high-income countries

By: Martin Ruhs, University Lecturer in Political Economy and Senior Researcher

ruhs_price_webHow do high-income countries regulate labour immigration? I have analysed policies in over 46 countries and this blog summarises some of the key findings.  For a more detailed discussion, see my recent book The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labour Migration.

Measuring labour immigration policy: Openness, skills and rights
At its core, the design of a labour immigration policy requires policy decisions on three fundamental issues: how to regulate openness i.e. the number of migrants to be admitted (e.g., through quotas); how to select migrants (e.g., by skill); and what rights to grant migrants after admission (e.g., temporary or permanent residence; access to welfare benefits; and limited or unlimited rights to employment).

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Posted in human rights, immigration, labour markets, migration, policy, research, The Migration Observatory | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Barriers to migration: Are policing and fencing the answer?

By: Mette Berg, Departmental Lecturer, Anthropology of Migration

chain link fenceJust before Christmas I read an article in the Financial Times about increasing numbers of migrants trying to enter Ceuta and Melilla. These two Spanish cities on the Moroccan coast represent the only way of entering Europe from Africa without crossing the Mediterranean. The Spanish response to the increase has been to construct ever higher fences, to deploy more border guards, and to use more sophisticated technology to detect and deter migrants. But the human cost of making it more difficult to enter Europe is high. The Lampedusa tragedy in October last year, when hundreds of migrants drowned, showed this in tragic fashion.

While such events for a short while highlight the desperate situation of migrants, all too often in Europe the human stories behind migration are side-lined in favour of a narrow focus on the perceived threats of migrants to national security or to the welfare state. In this view, immigrants are seen as either deserving or undeserving depending on their motives for migrating, but how helpful or accurate is this understanding?

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Posted in Flows and Dynamics, journey, migration, research, Urban Change and Settlement | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Theresa May’s slavery bill won’t help domestic workers

By: Bridget Anderson, Deputy Director, COMPAS and Julia O’Connell Davison, University of Nottingham.

This blog was first posted by The Conversation on 26 November 2013. 

The recent discovery of three women in Lambeth who had allegedly been held as slaves for more than 30 years has sparked a national debate on the prevalence of slavery in the UK today.

In Lambeth, police are investigating the claims and further details are still to emerge. Whatever the outcome of that particular case, many politicians have been quick to use the national debate to make the case for new legislation. Writing in yesterday’s Telegraph, Home Secretary Theresa May said the proposed Modern Slavery Bill will:

Send the clearest possible message. If you are involved in this disgusting trade in human beings, you will be arrested, you will prosecuted and you will be locked up.

And when the story first broke on Thursday, Frank Field MP, vice chair of the Human Trafficking Foundation, commented:

The horrors of this case emphasise the crucial need for a new Modern Slavery Bill, along with immediate practical measures to tackle modern slavery, which we are now increasingly aware is taking place through many insidious forms across the country.

The proposed bill has already been widely praised. The Sunday Times, for instance, said it has been described as “the first concerted effort to eradicate slavery since the efforts of William Wilberforce”.

However, Home Office proposals to abolish the “modern day slave trade” in this way will be viewed with some scepticism by migrant domestic workers and their supporters. Those who have entered the UK since 6 April 2012 have been affected by a new visa regime introduced by this government which prevents migrant domestic workers from changing employers or renewing their visa beyond six months.

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Posted in Citizenship and Belonging, human rights, immigration, labour markets, migration, trafficking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What we talk about when we talk about immigration

By: Mikal Mast, PR and Communications Officer

In 2003, the Press Complaints Commission determined that the term ‘illegal asylum seeker’ was legally inaccurate and should no longer be used. It is impossible for an asylum seeker to be illegal because under human rights legislation everyone has the right to seek asylum. The ruling has not been entirely effective, and the term continues to slip into use – recently the conservative Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison told his staff to call asylum seekers who arrive by boat ‘illegal maritime arrivals‘.

Situations like this make you wonder how the language the press, and we ourselves, use to talk about immigration affects how we think about immigration.

airplane over LondonHere at COMPAS we quite naturally tend to keep up with news on immigration. Following press coverage of immigration has taught me a lot about how the media works. I’ve become frustratingly aware of how the media is ‘news’ focussed, leading to media frenzies over things like the Lampedusa boat tragedy or the stowaway who fell from a plane over London. News like this is exciting, but it doesn’t really tell you much about immigration in general. Most immigrants are not illegal, and most come through traditional transportation routes.

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Posted in immigration, media, migration, research, The Migration Observatory, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment