Tag Archives: Research

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)

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?

For the Sake of Argument

When Professor Jeremy Gibbons presented a seminar on his work to the College last year I joked with him that he was suggesting we should hang a notice over the door to the college: “Let none ignorant of logic enter here”. Indeed, we have many Fellows and students within the College who are associated with the Software Engineering programme run out of the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science – a department that is renowned for the development and practical application of formal, logical methods. Such disciplines may seem esoteric to you only until you realise that they are often at the core of the security of your payment cards and to the safety of complex systems such as aircraft and medical devices. You have almost certainly trusted both your life and your wallet to those ‘esoteric’ logics practiced with such diligence on Parks Road.

However, I intend here to take a somewhat contrarian view to my colleagues on the Software Engineering programme (and only partly to provoke them into a response). I have a view that logic is the lesser form of argument; that logic sits at a lower rank in the trivium than that occupied by rhetoric. After all, is not logic really more than repeated tautology? A sufficiently smart person does not need the mathematical proof, since the truth or falsehood of the conclusion is entailed immediately from the premise: TRUE = TRUE. I am thinking here perhaps of Srinivasa Ramanujan who seemingly without effort created mathematical theorems of the most wonderfully beautiful and yet (to folk like me) incomprehensible kind.

Image One

(We shall, of course, forgive the great Ramanujan for being a fellow of The Other Place)

However, such things are beyond me. And therefore, since I cannot prove a logician to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villein. As I shall explain.

The greater form of discourse, and that which is practiced most frequently within the walls of this University, is that of Defeasible Argumentation. A defeasible argument is one in which two equally intelligent, informed and ethical individuals may reasonably come to a different conclusion.

My current research interest spans these two great edifices of argumentation: Computation on the one side and defeasible argumentation on the other. I have found that the unfurrowed middle ground between disciplines can often be the most easily productive – fertilized as it is by great minds in both fields but otherwise left available for opportunistic cultivation by us farmers of lesser degree. Those who know me will be aware that I hold three university degrees in four different subjects – almost certainly because I was unable to muster sufficient skill in any of those subjects to ‘go the whole way’. Still, I have made a useful career of transferring knowledge from experts in one discipline to those of another – making such translations of language and metaphor as were required by the circumstance.

I recall, that after I handed in the first written product of my Doctorate my supervisor pointed out of the window with a sigh. “Do you know what that building is?” He said.

“The library?” I hesitantly replied. For, after all, it was most familiar to me – had I not walked past it many times on my way to the Student Union bar during my three years at that university as an undergraduate?

“You and it need to become better acquainted.” he said, insightfully but rather hurtfully in my view.

I had not become terribly familiar with the inside of the Library as an undergraduate. On the first day of a Physics Bachelors Degree one may acquire a copy of some large tome containing hundreds of pages of impenetrable mathematics and diagrams. A good exemplar of this being Eisberg and Resnick’s “Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei and Particles”  (although I am now horrified to read one of its reviewers describes this as largely free of mathematics. Time may have taken its toll – but I do not recall it having been so). With diligence the more enthusiastic and able student might read most of such a book by the time they graduate (although comprehend rather less of it). You may understand why the thought that one’s fellow students in their studies of literature, philosophy and the arts might consume not just ‘some’ but ‘many’ books is a source of great consternation to us ‘hard scientists’.

Amongst the many benefits for my fellow students of consuming knowledge in such a voracious manner was not only their absorption of the facts of the matter, but also the process of reasoning by which such arguments are formed and communicated. That is, the development of the acuity of mind that would allow them to obtain some better understanding of truth in the face of partial, incomplete and occasionally erroneous premises.

In struggling up the rather Sisyphean intellectual ladder of writing my own PhD thesis, I finally myself gained some semblance of skill in making coherent arguments. Having experienced such torture myself, it is not then surprising that I now enjoy imposing the strictures of intellectual rigour on my own students. (I can do so with a clear conscious since I know it to be both for their benefit and certainly for that of their future employers and associates). That pleasure has been marred only occasionally by an incoherent, vacuous or spurious written arguments within an assignment submission. Still, I cheer myself in the long cold evenings of winter with the thought that if one could not fail student assessments then there would be little point, nor pleasure in setting and marking them.

My principle discipline is now Complex Systems Engineering. Thus, inevitably, my interest has turned to the tools, methods and processes by which we, who have not been blessed with an education in the arts, may better practice the disciplines of coherent argument. A primary source in the understanding of such methods is that of the work of Steven Toulmin, and in particular his 1958 work “The Uses of Argument”. In that treatise Toulmin introduces a model of defeasible argumentation which may be illustrated thus:

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Such diagrams intrigued me from the start. They have much in common with the semi-formal, diagrammatic ‘languages’ such as ‘UML’ and ‘sysML’ which I present as an element of the course on Systems Engineering I teach through the Department for Continuing Education. But in this case, they do not represent the structure or behaviour of a complex piece of technology, but the structure of an argument.

I first employed such diagrammatic models to address a problem we have in the development of large-scale, complex systems; that of explanation.  For, whilst engineers are normally skilled in documenting the design of a complex system, they often fall short in an explanation of why things are they way they are. This is important, since these large systems are often constructed by hundreds of people from different disciplines working in parallel. If these disparate individuals do not understand the ‘why’ they may easily undermine the solution through the course of the systems life.

The diagramming notation I invented (The ‘Essential Logic Model’ or ELM) uses a form of graphical argumentation to explain the design. An ELM ‘tells the story’ of why a system is the way it is.

More recently I set out to plough an adjacent field; the intersection between the modelling methods and tools of Systems Engineering and that of Business Strategy. The method developed as part of that work is called ‘PESTLEWeb’. PESTLEWeb is intended to help people understand and communicate the context for business strategy development. It uses a form of visual argumentation to explain how issues in the business environment have impacts on emerging business strategy. Such diagrams are most usefully created in a collaborative manner. Thus, in order to better understand how such collaboration might be facilitated I developed the PESTLEWeb.com website to enable users to create and share models. The theory and some of the research behind this work is available in my thesis on PESTLEWeb.

Image three

The latest incarnation of this technology is called it-will-happen.com – which uses visual argumentation to help individuals and teams think-through their route to a specific objective.

Key research questions here revolve around how such tools should be designed. They have to be approachable and must require little learning to be effective. They must be ‘intuitive’ and yet they are intended to move the user towards more rigorous thinking through visual explanation and argument. Another important question is now ‘knowledge’ can be abstracted from any individual diagram to provide a library of reusable information. That is, how they can be used to mine ‘the wisdom of crowds’ – the collective intelligence of a group. In this, the research moves by a circuitous amble back into the fields of computation and statistics and the tools of what, in common parlance, is called ‘big data’. And so, I have been there and back again; from logic to defeasible argumentation and thence finally to return to computation.

Finally, I wonder if I should revisit my proposition to Professor Gibbons; that above our door we should not exhort our members towards logic but to coherent argument and explanation. After all, there is much to be had of both within Kellogg College.

Dr Rob Collins, February 2014

About the author:

Dr Robert Collins is a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College and has been teaching on the MSc in Software Engineering at the University of Oxford for the past 10 years. He also teaches the Systems Engineering Fast-Track course through the Department for Continuing Education.

The Atlas of Hillforts Project and Citizen Science

The Hillforts Atlas Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and directed by Emeritus Professor Gary Lock, Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg. The project works in collaboration with Edinburgh University and University College Cork and has teams of people based at those two places as well as in Kellogg. Here are based Dr Ian Brown, Dr Paula Levick and Jessica Murray a project-funded DPhil student, who are responsible for English and Welsh data.

The project’s aim is to produce a paper and an online atlas of all hillforts in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Although a range of different local, regional and national data resources exist for hillforts an integrated single searchable source of information has never been tried before for the estimated 5,000 to 6,000 sites. For more information visit http://www.arch.ox.ac.uk/hillforts-atlas.html

Hillforts are enigmatic monuments, enclosed areas surrounded by banks and ditches or stone walls and often, but not always, on hilltops. They probably had a range of uses during the periods when they were constructed and used which could be from the Late Bronze Age (c. 1,000 BC) to early medieval times. They are very variable across the five countries of interest here and this project aims to not only collate existing data but also to enhance it with more detail describing the characteristics of these often large monuments.


The hillfort of Segsbury Camp, on the Ridgeway, Oxfordshire, England, the road through the middle is modern. 

To help collect data on hillforts the project includes a Citizen Science survey whereby members of the public are guided in how to survey hillforts and submit data. At the project website are online and downloadable forms and extensive Notes for Guidance on how to fill them in. The aim of this is not only to collect data but also so that people can learn about these enigmatic monuments and visit them with a more critical and informed eye. One of the good things about hillforts is that they are often located in beautiful places and are visited by many people, close to Oxford, for example, are the Ridgeway hillforts of Uffington Castle and Segsbury Camp. The survey has been well received in all five countries, for example a group of people in the Chilterns are about to start on surveying 19 local hillforts and a group in the New Forest are holding a ‘love your hillforts’ campaign which includes carrying out many surveys. The project offers support and guidance so if you are interested please contact Ian, Paula or myself, details on the Project website. 

Gary Lock, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of Oxford School of Archaeology, and Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College.