Skip to main content

The Politics of Immigration: Contradictions of the Liberal State



The Politics of Immigration: Contradictions of the Liberal State

James Hampshire

ISBN: 978-0-745-67141-3 January 2014 Polity 224 Pages


Immigration is one of the most contested issues on the political agenda of liberal states across Europe and North America. While these states can be open and inclusive to newcomers, they are also often restrictive and exclusionary. The Politics of Immigration examines the sources of these apparently contradictory stances, locating answers in the nature of the liberal state itself.

The book shows how four defining facets of the liberal state - representative democracy, constitutionalism, capitalism, and nationhood - generate conflicting imperatives for immigration policymaking, which in turn gives rise to paradoxical, even contradictory, policies. The first few chapters of the book outline this framework, setting out the various actors, institutions and ideas associated with each facet. Subsequent chapters consider its implications for different elements of the immigration policy field, including policies towards economic and humanitarian immigration, as well as citizenship and integration. Throughout, the argument is illustrated with data and examples from the major immigrant-receiving countries of Europe and North America.

This book will be essential reading for students and researchers in migration studies, politics and international relations, and all those interested in understanding why immigration remains one of the most controversial and intractable policy issues in the Western world.

List of Tables and Figures vi

Acknowledgements vii

1 Immigration and the Liberal State 1

2 The Politics of Closure 16

3 The Politics of Openness 36

4 The Sisyphean Task of Migration Governance 55

5 Migration Governance beyond the State 81

6 The Janus Face of Liberal Citizenship 107

7 Integration in the Liberal State 131

8 Conclusion: Living with Contradictions 156

Notes 162

References and Bibliography 165

Index 179

"There's something for everyone in this deftly crafted book. Students will appreciate the clarity and breadth of coverage, while more advanced researchers will find a compelling and original contribution to our understanding of the factors shaping immigration policy."
Christina Boswell, University of Edinburgh

"Not only a brilliant work of scholarship, it is the best book on the politics of migration in decades and deserves to become the standard work."
Randall Hansen, University of Toronto

"More than just the best available synthesis on migration from a political science perspective, James Hampshire’s new book offers a persuasive and coherent argument about the 'contradictions of the liberal state' as it meets the fact of immigration. Highly recommended."
Christian Joppke, University of Bern

"Recommendable for a wide range of audiences. Hampshire's approach of focusing on shared features of liberal states across various regions is innovative and enlightening"
LSE Review of Books
  • An ideal course text for undergraduates and postgraduates, the book clearly introduces and explains the key issues in immigration policy
  • The author draws together and elucidates complex arguments from political theory, sociology and labour economics
  • Contains a wealth of empirical detail, as well as an innovative structure that makes a new contribution to the theorising of immigration policy
  • Uses the most up-to-date data and examples from all the major immigrant-receiving countries today