BRIDGES Workin Paper nº 19

Migration narratives in political debate and policy-making

Fecha de publicación:
Christina Boswell and Saskia Smellie

BRIDGES Working paper 19 (October 2023)

In this concept note, produced in the framework of BRIDGES’ “Migration Narratives in Political Debate and Policy-making” (Work Package 7), we develop a conceptual and methodological framework for the analysis of how different narratives shape, and are deployed in, political debate and policymaking. In the first part, we set out the features and functions of narratives in public political debate and policy-making, highlighting the complex interplay between media and political narratives and narratives in more technocratic policy venues. Based on existing literature, we argue that narratives in different political and policy-making arenas are governed by different logics and, therefore, will engender different discursive styles (‘lay/populist’ versus ‘technocratic’). In the second part, we analyse how political and policy actors respond to different narratives, setting out a four-way typology of government strategies for responding to (especially populist) narratives: embracing, adapting, rejecting, or ignoring (decoupling). Finally, in part three, we develop a unique method for empirically identifying these strategies.

Keywords: migration, narratives, policy-making