Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Political Sociology of Regional Variations: Family Immigration in North America, Europe, and East Asia

MAD Kolloqium with Kristin Surak
Though grouping states into regions is common in the social sciences, explicit attempts to understand what regions are and why they help us predict political outcomes have been rare. This paper contributes to a political sociology of regional variation by focusing on an area of policy that is likely to be increasingly important in developed economies: international migration, and specifically, the migration of families. To do so, it examines the history of family reunion policy formation in three different geographic regions of migrant-receiving states: North America, Europe and East Asia. Each of these regions has shown different policy patterns and outcomes regarding family migration, despite similar levels of economic development and liberal political institutions. In other words, knowing which region a migrant-receiving state is in helps predict what its family immigration policy will look like. Our analysis shows that regional variation is not explained by the presence or absence of particular independent variables typically associated with immigration policymaking. Rather, a combination of historical sequencing, critical junctures, and channeled learning has yielded different policy paradigms that explain the durable patterns of difference.