BRIDGES Working Papers 1 (2021)
This Working Paper identifies five prominent transnational narratives in France and the UK that aimed to justify restrictions towards immigrants from the Global South, from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, when both countries turned to restrictive policies structurally. France and the UK were the most exposed to large and autonomous migration flows from the Global South as a result of their former colonial empires.
Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons and the French Senate, articles from British, French, and American newspapers, including a local French newspaper, and public speeches allow reporting an invasion narrative, a difference narrative, a humanitarian narrative, an oil-shock narrative, and a crisis narrative. The humanitarian narrative – presenting migrants as victims to protect – and the crisis narrative – putting forward insurmountable economic difficulties to curb immigration – became the most successful to justify state intervention to restrict immigration as they matched native workers’ concerns while minimising disturbances within destination countries.