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Bridging the GapsLinking Research to Public Debates and Policy Making on Migration and Integration$

Martin Ruhs, Kristof Tamas, and Joakim Palme

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198834557

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198834557.001.0001

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(p.v) Foreword and Acknowledgements

(p.v) Foreword and Acknowledgements

Bridging the Gaps
Martin Ruhs, Kristof Tamas, Joakim Palme
Oxford University Press

This book is the outcome of a project carried out within the auspices of the Swedish Migration Studies Delegation (Delmi). The mission of Delmi, which was set up as a government committee, is to serve as a bridge between social science research, on the one hand, and public debate and policy-making, on the other. The initial motivation for this book was the idea that Delmi would benefit from analyses of the experiences of other initiatives and projects aimed at linking research to public debate and policy-making processes, not only in other countries, but also in international settings. The work on the book thus became an important tool for Delmi in terms of self-reflection and self-evaluation, serving as a sounding board for critical reflections of the work of the committee.

The idea for this book project came from Kristof Tamas, who then engaged Joakim Palme and Martin Ruhs as co-editors. These three editors had once been brought together by a politician, the late Jan O. Karlsson, who in so many ways was dedicated to the mission of bringing research closer to policy-making, not least as co-chair of the Global Commission for International Migration and, before that, as Minister of Migration. We are happy that his successors as Ministers of Migration have shared his engagement in research. As Minister, Tobias Billström was responsible for setting up Delmi as an independent committee—which we, also in retrospect, believe was a wise decision. Later, his successors as responsible ministers, Morgan Johansson and Heléne Fritzon, have continued to support the work of the committee. We see this support as being part of a quest for more knowledge and respect for the value of pursuing this work in an independent format.

The source of inspiration for this anthology was a book published in 1993 by Alexander L. George, Bridging the Gap: Theory and Practice in Foreign Policy. George examined US foreign policy strategies and explored ways to bridge the gap between the two cultures of academia and policy-making. He advised policy-makers to reinforce their use of academic knowledge while inviting scholars to produce more policy-oriented knowledge. This piece of advice is also useful for the study of migration and integration, and the relations between academia, media/public opinion, and policy-makers. Over the past couple of decades, the notion that policy-makers should rely on research to (p.vi) form evidence-based policies has been challenged. Liberal democratic governments are increasingly feeling threatened by the rise of populist parties. Academic knowledge and expert views are increasingly being questioned by post-truth advocates.

Our overall concern is the question of how we could help in bridging the gaps between academic research and media/public opinion, academic research and government policies, and government policies and public debate. What are the opportunities and pitfalls of trying to produce policy-relevant research? What lessons can be learnt from past experiences of efforts to use research to inform public debate and policy-making processes? These are highly timely and topical questions in a large number of countries across the world.

We are very grateful to all the chapter authors for their contributions. We are pleased that we could gather and persuade such a knowledgeable group of scholars and practitioners from Europe and beyond to contribute to this book. The contributors have a wealth of knowledge and experiences with linking research to public and policy debates on migration and integration across a wide range of different institutional settings and countries.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Vitterhetsakademien), who provided generous financial support for a workshop in May 2017 which enabled this book’s contributors to gather in Stockholm. This workshop proved exceptionally helpful for facilitating discussions among our contributors and for shaping the book in a way that makes it appealing to a wide-ranging audience, including academics, policy-makers, civil society and media, and the general public. We would also like to thank the following commentators who provided very helpful discussions of the draft chapters presented at the workshop: Alessandra Venturini, Kerstin Brunnberg, Tom Nuttall, Michele Levoy, Eskil Wadensjö, Bernhard Perchinig, Peter Webinger, and Johan Hassel.

The editors have benefited greatly from the support of the Delmi secretariat throughout the project. Associate professor Henrik Malm Lindberg has, in many ways, been an important engine for the project and his input has been extremely valuable. Dr Constanza Vera-Larrucea has provided a stream of useful comments about the various chapters in this volume that greatly improved a number of the contributions, not least our own. We are also grateful for the support of Dr Erik Lundberg and Dr Sara Thalberg.

We would like to acknowledge the excellent support from Oxford University Press, not least by Adam Swallow who believed in the book project—his enthusiasm has been truly appreciated and has spurred us forward—and by Katie Bishop who helped us complete the project. Keith Povey has done an excellent and expedient job as copy-editor, for which we are truly grateful. Elakkia Bharathi did a great effort in helping us finalize the book.

(p.vii) International migration and integration are among the greatest challenges of our time. Well-balanced policies can make a great deal of difference to promoting the considerable benefits and positive outcomes that migration can generate while, at the same time, reducing any potential risks and adverse consequences. Wise policies are not designed by default, which is why it is so important to feed knowledge into policy-making processes. We hope that the theoretical reflections, case studies and policy analyses in this book will be helpful in building more and stronger bridges across research, public debate and policy-making processes on migration, integration, and related public policies. (p.viii)