Research

My core research interest is how states, particularly liberal democratic states, regulate international migration, and how politics shapes their attempts to do so.

In my book, The Politics of Immigration, I argue that the governance of international migration is shaped by contradictions between constitutive features of liberal states: representative democracy, constitutionalism, capitalism, and nationhood. I argue that these contradictions explain why liberal states are open towards some kinds of migrants and closed to others, and I show how this creates legitimacy problems for governments which are simultaneously expected to represent public opinion, uphold human rights, secure the conditions for capital accumulation, and reproduce national identity.

This broad research agenda has led me to research how different actors, institutions and ideas interact to shape immigration policy in various settings, especially in British and European politics. I have written about political parties and coalition government immigration policymaking, the European Union’s external migration regime, and the role of ideas in policy change.

I am currently a Work Package Leader in the EU FP7 Temper research project, which examines labour migration to Europe. Together with a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Erica Consterdine, we are developing an immigration policy index to measure labour migration policy changes across four European countries.