MGW-NW Inaugural Talk

19th October 2018, 2-4pm, Room H242, Edge Hill University

Prof Adrian Favell

Title: From political economy to political demography: beyond methodological nationalism
Abstract: The sociology of migration is still substantially split between scholars working in conventional linear/nation-centred forms (“immigration” and “integration” studies) where the national unit of society and aggregate data is taken for granted, and those whose work foregrounds methodological nationalism, the political construction of populations/groups, and the continuum of migration/mobilities (what I will call “critical migration studies”). Recent works on “integration” have substantially advanced that agenda (esp. Dahinden 2016; Schinkel 2017; cf. Favell 2001, 2003), although reactions can still be violent when the mainstream is challenged on its own (empirical) terrain (see Alba/Foner [2015]’s reaction to my critique, Favell 2016). Here, I would like to develop a related, but different discussion which identifies the key issues in moving beyond conventional discussions of the political economy of international migration, which for sake of clarity I will identify with the encompassing and deeply influential Marxist paradigm of Stephen Castles. One useful aspect of Brexit has been to foreground the fact that sovereignty and democracy – i.e., the normative “nation”, Hobbesian politics in this case – can still exercise power in differentiating mobilities and populations (hence in cementing a certain kind of nationalised and racialised colonial hierarchy), in contrast to nearly two decades of scholarship when everything was powered and determined by “neo-liberal” capitalist globalisation, divided into polarised “winners and losers”. Via reference to a broad range of recent “critical migration studies” – including inter alia Mezzadra and Neilson (2013), McNiven (2011), Anderson (2013), Waldinger (2015), Gonzales and Sigona (2017), Yeoh and Liu-Farrer (2018), Xiang (2016) and Xiang and Lindquist’s work on East Asia (2014) – I try to lay out the confusing (and often conflated) alternatives between Marxist (i.e. global capitalist governance), Foucauldian (i.e., governmentality, biopower) and Liberal (i.e. institutionalist; Hollifield 2004; Soysal 2012, Joppke 2010) paradigms in political economy, and how a more developed empirical agenda speaking to debates on global inequalities (Milanovic 2005) and development (de Haas 2008) might be conceived.

The following short pieces may be useful in filling out this abstract:

Favell, A. (2016) Liberalism not neo-liberalism’, review of Will Kymlicka, Comparative Migration Studies.
Favell, A. (2017) ‘The limits of liberalism and the limits of critique’, review of Bridget Anderson, British Journal of Sociology.

Adrian Favell is Chair in Sociology and Social Theory at the University of Leeds. He is the author of various works on migration, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and cities, including Philosophies of Integration (1998), The Human Face of Global Mobility (with Michael Peter Smith, 2006), and Eurostars and Eurocities (2008). A collection of his essays, Immigration, Integration and Mobility: New Agendas in Migration Studies including more recent work on East-West migration and anti-EU politics in Britain, was published by ECPR Press (Jan 2015).


This event is free but please click here to register

This seminar will be chaired by the MGW-NW director, Dr Zana Vathi

This event is sponsored by I4P, Edge Hill University’s cross-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange initiative. The Institute is committed to exploring the opportunities for cross sector collaboration and co-operation and to draw on the experience of practitioners as well as academic researchers to inform new ways of working and learning.

Learn more here: I4P