Migration Policy on the Run: New Arrivals’ Experiences of Idleness, Inertia and Indifference

In recent years, Social Science Works has conducted extensive research on the living conditions and perspectives of refugees in Germany. In this context, Laila Keeling, Anjali Zyla, Sahba Salehi, Nadia Lejaille, Genevieve Soucek and Hans Blokland have spoken to a wide range of refugees. Some of the interviews have been published here on our website. In addition, quantitative data were collected and social workers, volunteers, representatives of civil society organizations, civil servants and policy makers were interviewed. All this material has now been analyzed by Hans Blokland, and on this basis a large number of policy recommendations have been formulated. The final product, Migration Policy on the Run, has been published (in German) by Transcript Verlag in Bielefeld in November 2023. An English edition is in preparation. On this page information is given about the German edition. Besides, parts of it are presented in English translation.

From the cover text:

Migration and integration are inextricably linked to many fundamental social and political issues: Identity, belonging, discrimination, emancipation, diversity, cohesion, solidarity, responsibility, social order, and social policy. Hans Blokland focuses on the perceptions and experiences of refugees, professionals, volunteers, and policy decision makers in a district in Brandenburg and derives from this more general insights about migration, integration and the challenges associated with it. Overall, he paints a rather troubling picture that highlights the convulsiveness and anxiety of most Western nations in dealing with migration.

Interview with Hans Blokland

Why a book on this topic?

Migration and integration have become a key theme in many public debates in Western democracies. Elections are even determined by this theme. Factual, empirically based discussions have become increasingly difficult. Politicians, officials, journalists, citizens seem to flee en masse from the topic of migration policy, look away, and sentiments and gut feelings rule the debate. Therefore, a book that stays very close to the daily experiences of all involved and reports on them in a down-to-earth manner, hoping to contribute to some reasonableness and reflection.

What new perspectives does your book offer?

Migration and integration is usually discussed in very general terms, leaving the concrete backgrounds, experiences, motives and perspectives of the migrants and refugees out of sight. This also applies to the experiences and efforts of the social workers, volunteers and policy makers at regional and municipal level who deal with migration and integration on a daily basis. This book focuses on their experiences, as well as those of the newcomers.

What significance does the topic have in current research debates?

Much contemporary research is quantitative in nature, whereby the everyday reality of those being researched regularly gets snowed under. In addition, researchers generally do not think they need to concern themselves with policy and policy recommendations. This would impair their objectivity. However, by asking how integration can be promoted, one also gets a better picture of the underlying issues.

Who would you most like to discuss your book with?

In addition to policymakers, I would like to engage in conversation with those citizens who are most opposed to migrants and refugees, and have been led to the opinion that keeping these aliens out would contribute significantly to their well-being. I would like to show them that these aliens are largely moved by similar fears, frustrations, ambitions and dreams as themselves, and are therefore far less alien than thought. Moreover, their arrival is by no means a new phenomenon historically, and those involved can often make an important, perhaps even indispensable, contribution to the revitalization of our societies.

Your book in one sentence

An in-depth study of refugees trying to integrate in a European country that is undecided about migration, and what this tells us about human aspirations and needs, policy making and political culture.