Category Archives: Fellow post

More Farage, More Immigration

More Farage, More Immigration

This article, written by Senior Research Fellow Robin Cohen, first appeared in Discover Society a digital platform which is published by Social Research Publications, a not-for-profit collaboration between sociology and social policy academics and publishers at Policy Press to promote the publication of social research, commentary and policy analysis. 

This title is clearly a provocation. How can a politician who has garnered support from about 15% of the British electorate on a policy of restricting immigration, actually generate the opposite result? I’m careful to say ‘restrict’ in line with the UKIP website, which recognises ‘the benefits of limited, controlled immigration’. Perhaps it would not be too far off the mark to say that many of UKIP’s supporters are more attracted to the party’s promise to ‘leave the EU, and take back control of our borders.’ A study of UKIP voters found that ‘on immigration, hostile views were widespread, but UKIP voters were consistently the most intolerant group after the British National Party’. Why are these sympathisers of Nigel Farage likely to be disappointed?

The answer lies in Robert Merton’s law of unintended consequences. As Merton makes clear, there can be enhanced benefits as the law unfolds, but in this case we are firmly in the realm of perverse results, namely an effect quite contrary to the original intention. Migration scholars are well aware that immigration policies are unusually prone to poor outcomes or outright failure. Let me cite three cases:

  • The first is from a classic account of Caribbean migration to the UK by Ceri Peach, who demonstrated that there was an almost perfect correlation between employment vacancies and migration from the West Indies until, in the wake of Enoch Powell’s incendiary interventions, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was announced in 1961, then passed in April of the next year. The result was a sudden increase in immigration as Caribbean migrants ‘rushed to beat the ban’ (1).
  • The second concerns the case of Dutch Guyana (called Suriname after its independence), recently re-examined by Simona Vezzoli. In 1972, the Dutch Justice Minister announced impending immigration restrictions. ‘Prospects of independence filled the population with growing anxiety,’ says Vezzoli. She continues, ‘political motives, in addition to employment and educational opportunities in the Netherlands contributed to the growth of emigration and the 1971 spike.’ So-called ‘panic migration’ ensued.
  • The third is by far the most important numerically and concerns Latin American and Mexican migration to the USA. This is a much more complicated story than the Caribbean cases, but shows essentially that a massive circulatory migration system in the 1950s was punctuated, but not interrupted, by legal restrictions in 1965. By legally capping immigration numbers, the number of illegals (now with no incentive to return to Mexico) reached some 11 million. Two leading American migration specialists conclude: ‘to say that US immigration policies have failed is an understatement. From 1970 to 2010, the population born in Latin America increased more than eleven times’. (2)

I have cited three cases, but of course there are others I could draw into the argument for purposes of comparison and illustration. However, stacking up the examples will not necessarily clinch the argument. The point is to find some general rules and to draw some reasonable inferences that might be applied to migratory behaviour. There are, it seems, important migration effects once an open system is shut down or, perhaps more potently, threatened with closure. The signal that it will not be easy to move in the future either prompts a decision to move or, if one is already in a destination country, influences a decision to stay. Again, if the system has been open for long enough, network effects kick in. Though network analysis provides a poor explanation for the commencement of migration, it gives an excellent insight into the reason for its continuation. Obviously stated, if family, friends, co-religionists or neighbours have somewhat established themselves in a new society, they provide bridges to accommodation and job contacts, and make the difficult task of adaptation much easier.

The UK and the wider European migration system furnish a good demonstration. As Mr Farage never tires of telling us, citizens of any one of the remaining 27 EU countries are free to migrate to the UK, an open system that is only used by a minority but, theoretically, could be used by many more. What, may we reasonably infer, will influence the decision of non-migrants or ‘maybe-migrants’ to change their sedentary habits and make a move to the UK? Answer: signalling that the open door may soon be slammed shut. And who has been providing the clearest indication of that intention? Well, that will be Mr Farage, who might as well have set up a megaphone in every Polish, Bulgarian or Spanish street announcing the news.

Perhaps one can argue that Mr Farage’s views can be ignored. Many EU migrants already in the UK may well be aware that his party will only win (at most) a small number of seats in the May 2015 general election despite the hullabaloo he creates. However, the Prime Minister is clearly alarmed at the prospect of losing more Conservative votes to UKIP and has, in effect, adopted a soft version of UKIP policies on immigration. When David Cameron not only announces a referendum on EU membership by 2017, if the Tories are returned to office, but talks of a possible earlier test of public opinion, the alarm bells will be ringing in the ears of intending and resident migrants.

Let us try to put ourselves in the mind of (say) a Polish worker in the UK. When the new wave of migration commenced after 2004, many Poles were in a state of what the Polish scholar Agnieska Kubal calls ‘semi-legality’. They were required to register under the Workers Registration Scheme, but many did not do so. It cost £50–£90, was not enforced and was ‘useful’ only when one wanted to claim benefits (as one of Kubal’s respondents declared). Many Poles were somewhat in two minds – living their lives as rotating transnationals, with separated families and strong links in Poland. The crucial weight loading the fulcrum away from bi-locality and towards permanent UK residence lies in a challenge to their freedom of movement.

For a ‘maybe’ migrant, signalling the closure of a hitherto open system is an invitation to move faster and to take advantage of known networks. For a resident migrant, a hint that their future mobility might be imperilled leads them to invest more in becoming legal, buying property, reuniting their families and registering their children at local schools. Ergo, more Farage, more immigration.

Ceri Peach West Indian Migration to Britain: a Social Geography (Oxford University Press, 1968).
Douglas Massey and Karen A. Pren, ‘Unintended consequences of US immigration policy: explaining the post-1965 surge from Latin America’, Population and Development Review, 38 (1), 2012, p. 24.
Agnieska Kubal, ‘Why semi-legal? Polish post-2004 EU enlargement migrants in the United Kingdom’, Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law, 23 (2), 2009, pp. 148–64.

Robin Cohen is Senior Research Fellow at Kellogg College and Emeritus Professor, International Migration Institute, University of Oxford.

Image Credit: Nigel Farage of UKIP (Freestock photo: Wikipedia commons/8/84)


The best lunch in Oxford…

Carolyne Culver, Kellogg fellow and Head of Communications in the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, reminds us of the need for effective and timely communication in order to ensure that the University of Oxford remains a leader in global higher education. 

Kellogg serves the best lunches at Oxford. That’s what we should say to anyone who jests about cornflakes! And it’s true. Having visited a number of other colleges for lunch – and enjoyed the company of the colleagues who kindly invited me – there has sometimes been a hint of school dinners about the experience.

Last week a number of fellows and staff gathered to discuss how the college ought to communicate with its various audiences, from prospective students to alumni. We agreed that the sense of community we enjoy, not least because we all eat together informally, was an important message to convey to those wondering which college to choose.

We hope that new members of college are enjoying the current packed programme of welcome events, and that it provides them with a reassuring insight into the community that they can enjoy being a part of over the coming years.

Our role in the community and making a contribution to society beyond our walls is also important, College staff and the MCR raised money last week in support of Macmillan Cancer Support as we took part in the charity’s World’s Biggest Coffee morning. You can see photos from the event on the College Instagram and Twitter accounts.

I have recently ‘defected’ from the central University offices at Wellington Square to the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division to be their first Head of Communications. This is a fantastic opportunity to indulge my interest in science and work more closely with the academics and researchers in the Science Area. It’s also a good excuse to have meetings in the cafe at the Natural History Museum, opposite our offices, and gaze down on the T-Rex and dodo. I’m still close to college too!

There are many challenges that we face, for example sustaining and improving facilities in the Science Area, but there is also much to celebrate. Research income and philanthropic gifts continue to grow, as do the number of spin outs. MPLS spin out Natural Motion resulted in more than £30 million in cash and shares for the University. The work of many academics, researchers and graduate students has been recognised by national and international bodies, and our success in securing funds for several Doctoral Training Centres means we can train the researchers of the future.

Communicating the strength of Oxford research and getting the recognition it deserves is something that the departments, divisional offices, Begbroke Science Park and Isis Innovation work hard to achieve. However, we must never make the mistake of thinking the outside world understands and acknowledges our research strengths and our stature, and that we have nothing to learn from others. We face some almighty competition, within this country and globally, and our strength – academic freedom underpinned by the principle of subsidiarity – is also our weakness when it comes to communication. In such a complex organisation it is a challenge to find out what who is doing what, and where, and ensuring that this information is shared with the people who need to hear about it.

Information about researchers, their projects and their publications are spread across many websites. This is something that we need to resolve for the sake of members of the University who wish to collaborate with one another, and outsiders who want to find out more about our research and how they might be able to benefit from, and fund it. So this is a plea that we remember that effective and timely communication – upwards, downwards and sideways – is a challenge for all of us, and is necessary for any university to remain cutting edge.

If any fellows or students based in MPLS departments would like to meet and share ideas, I would be happy to do so – and we can enjoy the best lunch in Oxford at the same time!

Carolyne Culver, September 2014

Infrastructure, Development and Finance at Kellogg College

Dr Jennie Middleton Course Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Transport Studies Unit and Kellogg College writes about the latest Leadership Course facilitated by Oxford University’s Transport Studies Unit, which was hosted at Kellogg College at the beginning of September.

At the beginning of September Kellogg College hosted Oxford University’s Transport Studies Unit (TSU) for its ‘Infrastructure, Development and Finance’ Leadership Course within the Global Challenges in Transport programme. The TSU is currently half way through its second successful year of the programme with each of the four courses comprising a blend of lectures, seminars, distinguished visiting speakers, and practice-based workshops with industry experts. Attracting a range of international delegates from both the public and private sector, the courses enable participants to broaden their critical understanding of global transport challenges and how these relate to contemporary economic globalisation, urbanisation, social policy, resource scarcity, and climate change.

Participants were welcomed to Kellogg with a sumptuous networking dinner with pre-dinner drinks accompanied by an engaging talk from Ben Plowden, Director of Surface Transport at TFL, on the current UK government’s application of behavioural science to transport policy-making.

Throughout the week the key themes of ‘infrastructure’, ‘development’ and ‘finance’ were engaged with from a variety of transport perspectives. For example, Professor Naomi Brookes from Leeds University delivered a session on Mega Project Management, addressing the extreme complexity and challenges surrounding such large-scale infrastructure and project management schemes. Whilst Toru Kubo from the Asian Development Bank provided a macro-level perspective on the Bank’s roles and responsibilities in relation to transport infrastructure. The internationally renowned transport commentator broadcaster and journalist, Christian Wolmar, concluded the week by stimulating a lively final debate with an engaging talk on mega-projects and the much-debated HS2 scheme in the UK.

The course hosted delegates from the UK, US, China, Mauritius, Finland and Belgium who were able to not only spend the week engaging with a broad range of speakers but had opportunities to network and share their professional experiences with each other.

The TSU and Kellogg look forward to welcoming a further set of participants for the December course on ‘Health, Well-being and Urban Mobility’. For further details please see the website or contact Lucy Mahoney (Course Coordinator) 

Digital Venice: How open data can be used to tackle corruption

Liz speaking at Digital Venice

Liz speaking at Digital Venice

Liz Dávid-Barrett, Director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption and Transparency,  gave a talk last week at ‘Digital Venice’, an event to launch the Italian presidency of the EU and highlight the digital agenda.  Liz talked about the potential for Open Data to be used as a tool to tackle corruption, but also highlighted some key challenges – as outlined in her blog here.

In Venice last week, I had the opportunity to talk to an audience of techies, policy wonks and bureaucrats about Open Data and its potential as an anti-corruption tool.  Open Data means data that is freely available and may be re-published, and Open Government Data is that part of open data which concerns government – or, more broadly, public sector – activities.  The hope is that, by gaining access to more data about how the government spends public money, how ministers spend their time and who they meet, and how different parts of the public sector perform, we will be able to spot irregularities or risk areas that might indicate corruption.  Some of this information has long been available through Freedom of Information requests, but the UK government has stepped up its commitment to Open Data by joining the Open Government Partnership and championing the proactive publication of data.

However, the enthusiasm at the top is not always replicated at the lower levels of government which are responsible for implementation.  Opponents of open data make three powerful arguments against it.  First, they say it has a chilling effect on policy, distorting decisions or making civil servants more risk averse for fear that details will be misunderstood or criticized.  Second, there are concerns that Open Data undermines privacy or commercial confidentiality.  In an era where so many government contracts are outsourced to private providers, it is critical that we find a solution to this problem, or we risk losing accountability over huge parts of public spending.  Third, there is growing concern that publishing and reporting data – and responding to freedom of information requests – is just too costly.  This cost burden comes at a time when resources are already strained.  And hence people are beginning to ask whether it is all worth it.  Are we achieving the benefits that we claimed for Open Data?

As someone who works on anti-corruption, where we have been arguing for years that transparency is the key tool to fight corruption, I would love to be able to answer that question with a resounding yes.  But the truth is, I can’t.  We do not yet know whether open data is useful for improving accountability or reducing corruption.  There are certainly good reasons to think that it might be. Opening up data about policy decisions and spending decisions, particularly contract-level data, should help us to detect corruption in these areas.  It means that we can see how public money is being spent and ask questions where things look suspicious – as Mihály Fazekas showed in his recent seminar for the Centre.  And second, the fact that this data is open might deter individuals from acting corruptly in the first place, because the chance of getting caught is greater.  Thus, it might be that fewer cases of corruption occur.  Indeed, one problem for academics is that it is difficult to disentangle these two effects because when it comes to measuring the impact on corruption ‘levels’, they pull in opposite directions.

These difficulties should not put us off, but they do highlight the need to understand just how Open Data might help us detect and deter corruption, in which areas, and what kinds of data we need.  We are seeking to answer these questions in our EU-funded TACOD research project, with the Centre’s Nikolaos Theodorakis and partners in Italy, Spain and Austria – watch this space!

A Chamberlaine’s Farewell

Melissa Highton at our Foundation Dinner, March 2014

Melissa Highton (centre) at our Foundation Dinner in March 2014

At Kellogg we have been fortunate to have Melissa Highton as one of our Chamberlain’s, acting as Master (or Mistress) of Ceremonies and delivering much enjoyed after dinner speeches. On Saturday 14th June, Melissa gave her final after dinner speech which was enjoyed by all those present and which we share here as a farewell from our Chamberlaine.   

President, Fellows, guests, friends, members of college, it has been my pleasure to spend many lovely evenings as Chamberlaine at dinner with you over the last few years.

Those of you who have heard my speeches will know from my accent that I am Scottish. Last year in November, I spoke at one of Kellogg’s high profile events the migration studies dinner hosted by Robin Cohen and Martin Ruhs. The theme I chose for that evening was one of migration, immigrant groups, diaspora and the right of return. I spoke about my hopes for the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. After the dinner I thought I had better do some research to find out if I could actually vote in the referendum vote. What I learned is that in order to vote in September one has to be actually resident in Scotland;  this presented me with a difficult challenge.

As you may have guessed, I feel a calling to go home, back to Scotland and so this will be my last Chamberlaine’s speech, for a while.

My time at Kellogg has been very happy. I have enjoyed it immensely. Before I go, I would like to share with you six top tips I found on the internet regarding the giving of after -dinner speeches:

1.     Know your audience

This is easy; we are all members of Kellogg, the best college in Oxford. It has been my honour to host Thanksgivings and Christmases, Valentine’s Days, International Women’s days and Burns Night Ceilidhs.

We have celebrated birthdays, retirements, rugby wins, rowing wins, croquet wins, the equal marriage act, building openings, door openings, book launches, formals and balls. I have welcomed so many interesting visitors and enjoyed meeting your families.

At Kellogg I have found new friends, new mentors, new teachers, new dance partners, a lover and travelling companion, and an audience for my best jokes and worst puns. You have been very kind. Many of you have suggested ideas for speeches and I have enjoyed researching them all.

One of the unique things about the Oxford collegiate experience is that eating together for dinner is at the heart of college. Some colleges have exclusive dining societies; at Kellogg we have an inclusive one.

2.     Stay sober

This is not so easy at Kellogg. As you know, the fizz before dinner at is most convivial.  It is also true that as Chamberlaine I get invited to rather a large number of wine tastings. So many in fact that I have had to enlist a number of Chamberlaine’s wine advisers to take the strain. With the year of 25th anniversary silver celebrations ahead I am sure you will enjoy much champagne.

3.     Speak before 11pm

This is easy at Kellogg, we always finish dinner before 9.30pm. The staff run a very tight ship and are a great help to me as a Chamberlaine. This is a wonderful time to be involved with Kellogg, the move to this new site, with this elegant dining room and modern kitchens and the steady growth of the site. You will always hear people say that Kellogg is a work in progress. It is, and it takes work. There are people here working really hard to move it forwards and to maintain quality as the college gets bigger and bigger. At Kellogg everything we do is breaking new ground.

4. Tell stories based on your own experience

I have been privileged to take several roles within College. As Dean of Degrees as well as going with you to your graduations and matriculations my work has taken me into the back rooms  and underground corridors of the Sheldonian and Divinity Schools and to late night meetings in the most heavily vaulted and candle-lit rooms to discuss in great detail the formulations of Latin presentation, the  gender permutations of subfusc and the dangers of stiletto heels.

I have also been Web Fellow and the Kellogg tweet. During the year that I was Web Fellow and Andrew Martin was IT Fellow, we launched Kellogg on Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Secondlife.  We moved 400 pages of content from the old website into Drupal, tagged it, marked it up and got the Kellogg event feed flowing into OxTalks,  MobileOxford and even on to the screen at reception which, until that time, everyone had just assumed was a big black mirror.

5.      Include a call to action or suggest advice

Here’s my advice: Don’t neglect your table manners. One day at Oxford you can be sure you will find yourself at dinner sitting next to someone whose work you admire, who you have always hoped to meet but never thought you would. You will find yourself nervous and tongue-tied. And you will discover that that is the dinner at which you are expected to eat a banana with a knife and fork.

As you will know from the very kind speech David Griffiths made about me at the last dinner my name, Melissa, means honeybee. Bees are very interesting, worth studying and worth saving. They do magical waggle dances to show the way to the best flowers and new pastures. Some of you may choose to follow my path, I hope many of you will visit me in Edinburgh in the future.

Which leads me to my last top tip for after dinner speeches:

6.     Don’t outstay your welcome

After 2 years as Chamberlaine it is time for me to pass the Strudwick bell to someone else.  I will return to Kellogg, I am sure.  The Fellows have kindly elected me to a visiting Fellowship  and I am always available for comedy stand-up, after dinner speeches, weddings,  bat mitzvahs, graduations, retirements and funerals if need arises.

In the meantime, for the last time, please join me in the bar for dessert wine, coffee and port.

Thank you, All.
Melissa Highton, June 2014.

Connecting Kellogg and the Programme France Caraïbe

Professor Christine Chivallon (Visiting Fellow) and Dr David Howard (Fellow) have recently returned from Jamaica where they have been involved in the organization of an international conference, linking postgraduate teaching and research as part of the Programme France Caraïbe. Christine is co-founder of the programme, and David has been involved with the initiative for several years as an Associate Researcher at Sciences Po Bordeaux, both co-ordinating the British Academy’s Joint Initiative for the Study of Latin America & the Caribbean conference on the Construction of Collective Memories of Slave Rebellions in the Caribbean in Bordeaux. Christine and David, as Kellogg Fellows and members of the research group Les Afriques dans le Monde at Sciences Po Bordeaux, work closely with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies and the Department of Government at University of West Indies (UWI), and the Centre for Research on Local Powers in the Caribbean located at the Université Antilles-Guyane, Martinique.

Programme France Caraïbe was established in 2007 and connects three teaching and research institutes in France and the Caribbean: the Institut d’Études Politiques in Bordeaux, France (Sciences Po Bordeaux), the Université d’Antilles Guyane (UAG) in Martinique and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. The students on the associated MSc programme spend at least one year at each institution, with classes being taught in English and French. Such a connection has enabled the creation of a range of transatlantic and multilingual teaching and research links.

The recent conference, Contenting Perspectives on the Caribbean: Institutions, States, Cultures, Concepts, was held at UWI, 22-23 April 2014, and focused on European and Caribbean political and economic connections, concentrating on contemporary aspects of neo-colonialism. Among the aims were to engage scholars from diverse disciplinary, linguistic and institutional backgrounds in a dialogue about ongoing research on the Caribbean, and to expand cooperation between universities in the UK, France, the Francophone and former British Caribbean. The conference was funded by the Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and the Direction des relations européennes et internationales et de la coopération (DREIC), Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in France. Both of these institutions are committed to reinforcing the collaborative network of research initiated by the Programme France Caraïbe and were represented by delegates at the meetings.

As a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg, Christine has recently started a new research project with David that links their shared research interests on place, memory and rebellion in contemporary Martinique and Jamaica. Following the conference and meetings, they were able to develop their common work on a comparative approach to understanding today’s political and geographical legacies of anti-colonial rebellions, which took place in Jamaica and Martinique during the nineteenth century. They plan further fieldwork in Jamaica during 2015, and a conference will be held at Kellogg in December 2014 to explore the importance of place, memory and colonization.

Does transparency help reduce corruption in natural resource management?

Liz David-Barrett, Director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption and Transparency, writes about her current work with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where she spoke to a number of delegates in Geneva on Tuesday 8th April 2014.

Many countries that are endowed with natural resources suffer from the ‘resource curse’, whereby the benefits of this wealth do not filter down to the population.  The UN Conference on Trade and Development convened a major forum earlier this week to discuss the potential for transparency to help alleviate the resource curse and promote commodity-based development.

The facts about the resource curse are shocking.  At the UNCTAD forum, Alexandra Gillies of the Revenue Watch Institute presented data showing that resource-rich countries grow slower than countries without resources, as well as being less likely to democratise.  There are many possible explanations for this, but part of the story might be corruption.  Many resource-rich countries are ranked among the most corrupt on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, while mining is ranked the 15th most corrupt sector out of 19 on the Bribe Payers Index, with oil and gas in 16th place.

Transparency can help by exposing the revenue flows between governments and companies, and making it possible for civil society organisations to ask questions about where the money goes.  For example, governments that sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative promise to publish what they receive from extractives companies, and to require companies operating on their soil to publish what they pay.  The Initiative has proved surprisingly popular, attracting 26 full members and a further 18 candidates since 2002.

Why do governments in countries known for corruption sign up to transparency initiatives that shed light on the transactions they make with oil and gas companies? Cynics – myself and my co-author, Ken Okamura, included – suggest that at least part of the reason is that countries are explicitly rewarded for compliance with this norm.  In our 2013 paper, we find that countries that commit to implementing the EITI standard, for example, receive more aid than countries that are not prepared to make that commitment.

But we cannot prove that the promise of aid is what motivates governments to join, and we do not claim that this is the whole story.  It is also true that transparency has emerged as an international norm, and governments wishing to be part of the international club feel pressure to comply.  Individual ministers and officials gain personal satisfaction when their countries credibly commit to values associated with the pro-transparency movement, particularly if their peers – e.g., neighbouring countries – also join.

Perhaps we could capitalize on this desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ to extend the EITI model to other areas where global governance is needed to address thorny problems?  We suggest that the multi-stakeholder group that the EITI establishes has so much potential as a tool against corruption because it brings together three parties – governments, companies and civil society – who share an interest in bringing about change, even if their motivations are sometimes different.   It institutionalizes dialogue among these three groups, builds expertise about how to evaluate relevant data, and has numerous spillover effects that improve accountability in other areas.  The founder of EITI, Peter Eigen, is already adapting the methodology to tackle transparency in the garment industry.  But what other areas might benefit?