In order to provide a comprehensive overview of science-society dialogues on migrant integration in the UK, three constitutive components of these dialogues will be studied. The first component refers to knowledge production about migrant integration as a research field. What types of actors (research institutes, experts, etc.) have emerged and what ‘schools of thought’ can be distinguished? Secondly, we recognise that not all researchers are engaged with policymakers, politicians, civil society and the media to the same degree. We use the term dialogue structures to designate the principal actors involved, and the venues where they come together. Finally, we ask how policymakers made use of the body of knowledge produced in Britain on the topic of migrant integration. In order to analyse these patterns of knowledge use, this chapter also follows Boswell’s (see Chap. 2) distinction between instrumental, legitimising and substantiating knowledge utilisation.
Because knowledge production, dialogue structures and knowledge utilisation can be difficult to disentangle empirically, we shall not discuss them separately here but instead focus on their mutual inter-relations in a chronological manner. Table 13.1 provides an overview of four phases.
13.3.1 1940s to 1960s: The Emergence of the Race Relations Frame
Sociological studies of migrant settlement and integration in the UK first date to the 1940s, some considerable time before any explicit integration policies had been devised by the authorities. Kenneth Little was the first to investigate ‘race relations’ with his work in port cities such as Cardiff, where many sailors from British colonies had settled (Little 1947). This direction of inquiry was continued by Michael Banton, whose early work was supervised by Little at Edinburgh (Banton 1955). In the 1960s, John Rex and Robert Moore undertook a major study of migrant housing in Birmingham, heavily influenced by Robert Park and the Chicago School of sociology (Rex and Moore 1967).
At this time, there was little instrumental use of academic research in policymaking (Banton 1985). Where academics were most influential was in initially framing questions of integration in terms of ‘race relations’, with academic output inspiring ‘policy learning’ by politicians, civil servants, and the media (Bleich 2011). However, even here Bleich argues that ‘[s]ocial research (…) contributed directly to the formulation of eventual dominant frames in Britain, but it was one of a number of influences rather than constituting an overwhelming element’ (Bleich 2011: 62). This situation corresponds most closely to what Weiss (1986) calls the ‘enlightenment’ function of knowledge.
In this earlier period, examples of specific policy adjustments in which use of integration research was central were more likely to be inspired by applied research conducted outside academia, in what would now be termed think-tanks. In this regard, an early and highly influential pioneer was the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), originally founded in order to study race relations in colonial and Commonwealth countries. By the early 1960s, however, its focus had shifted to race relations in Britain itself, strongly influenced by academic and political currents in the United States (Banton 2011a). In 1963 a major 5-year survey was launched by the IRR, led by Jim Rose. This survey was later written up in the influential report, Colour and Citizenship (Rose 1969). Another organisation, Political and Economic Planning (PEP; later the Policy Studies Institute), also had a great influence on policy, providing persuasive and incontrovertible evidence of discrimination.
However, such data was not used in an instrumental manner, to rationally adjust policy, but rather used to substantiate an already-taken policy position (Boswell 2009). The passage of the 1968 Act is a paradigmatic example of this, as Banton relates with regard to the commissioning of an influential PEP study in 1967. In Banton’s view this study was ‘a set-up’ devised by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, his friend (and chairman of the Race Relations Board) Mark Bonham Carter, and their contacts at PEP. Indeed Bonham Carter ‘made it a condition of his appointment [to the Race Relations Board] that he should be able to put the case [for review of the 1965 Act] after only a year’s operation’ (Lester 2000: 28). As Banton recounts, ‘The ’68 Act was an aspiration and it became a reality thanks to the [PEP] research (…). The government wanted to get a bill through the House of Commons and it did’ (interview with Banton). Such remarks confirm Joppke’s depiction of an ‘elite-crafted’ race relations paradigm (1999: 225). This elite was constituted by London-based political, media and legal figures, rather than academics at provincial universities.
13.3.2 1970s: Fragmentation and Politicisation
Two principal features of migrant integration research in the UK become apparent from 1970: simultaneously, the expansion of knowledge production in this area, and the politicisation of the research field, resulting in competing schools of thought. Academics such as Ambalavaner Sivanandan, Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy and Robert Miles emerged who combined a Marxist perspective with a commitment to combating racism politically through their academic work (Favell 2001: 356). Their focus on racism (as opposed to race) put them at odds with sociologists such as Banton and Rex who maintained that the term race could be deployed as a neutral concept. The growing importance of the ‘critical race studies’ schoolFootnote 3 is revealed by the ‘capture’ of the IRR by Sivanandan and his supporters in 1972. Another locus for this new paradigm was the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham.
Given the anti-system tendencies of academics in the ‘critical race studies’ school, it is no surprise that their writings were of little use to policymakers. One might have expected more synergy between academia and policy in the official venues created for dialogue. However, the first academic centre sponsored by the Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC),Footnote 4 led initially by Banton at Bristol (1970–1978), was set up explicitly for the purposes of generating fundamental sociological knowledge, not policy-relevant knowledge (Banton 2011b). Another attempt to initiate dialogue was the creation of a Home Office Advisory Committee on Race Relations Research (ACRRR) in 1969. The terms of reference for the committee were: ‘To advise the Secretary of State on a programme of research likely to be relevant to the formulation of policy concerning the relations between people of colour, race or ethnic or national origins settled in Great Britain’ (ACRRR 1975: iii). Despite its easy access to channels of power, this Committee was far from successful in influencing the policy agenda. The initiative failed, largely because policymakers were reacting to short-term problems rather than developing long-term visions for policy:
That was an attempt to set up a place for exchange, and it failed, I think, completely (…). The trouble was that the Home Office people were having to respond to ministers … And ministers only wanted something when there was a problem (interview with committee member).
13.3.3 1980s and 1990s: The Rise of Multiculturalist Thinkers
Despite the differences of opinion between the orthodox ‘race relations’ scholars and the activist-academics of the critical school, common ground existed between them in two important respects. The first was the shared tendency to frame British experiences of ethnic diversity in relation to North American precedents. To this ‘Atlanto-centrism’, Tariq Modood (2012) adds a second ‘secularist’ bias. His contention is that earlier researchers neglected the religious identities and practices of post-Commonwealth immigrant communities in the UK, especially South Asian communities. With the exception of some anthropological work on the religious practices of South Asian migrants in Britain (Helweg 1979; Jeffery 1976; Werbner 1990), up until the 1990s there was little attention given to the influence of religion in processes of settlement and integration. It was only after the Rushdie Affair of 1989 that questions of accommodation of ethnic minority religions began to generate sustained academic interest. In opposition to the secularist bias of earlier research, multiculturalist thinkers emerged such as Modood, firstly at the Policy Studies Institute and latterly at Bristol, and Bhikhu Parekh at Hull.
Other important research centres were emerging at this time. The directorship of the government-funded SSRC unit transferred from Banton at Bristol to John Rex, first at Aston and then to the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations (CRER) at Warwick. This centre became a launchpad for many researchers who have since gone on to influential positions, such as John Solomos (editor of the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies). This transfer of leadership also coincided with a shift from the SSRC’s original emphasis on fundamental sociological research, moving to a ‘greater emphasis [on] policy relevant research and politically relevant research’ (Banton 2011b: 9). However, the pervading impression given by key informants and literature on the topic is that CRER had difficulties fulfilling its new mission. While CRER produced policy-relevant research (Favell 2001), the fact remains that this material was not widely drawn on by policymakers. Peter Ratcliffe, who was affiliated with CRER, admits that ‘the overall impact in terms both of minority empowerment and in policy transformation was probably rather slight’ (Ratcliffe 2001: 130).
One can speculate that CRER might have been more successful if successive Conservative governments had shown any interest in the race relations agenda. According to a senior civil servant at the Home Office who covered the race relations brief at the Home Office in 1978–1981 and then during the 1990s prior to retirement, there was very little proactive dialogue on integration matters during the years of Conservative rule (1979–1997). The race relations agenda was effectively ‘frozen’ at this time:
Direct systematic routine contact between academics to my memory did not exist at my level. (…) We had no political impetus behind us to search people out. (…) Thatcher set the tone … It was a failure of imagination, a failure to see what the country – simply through demographics – was likely to become … Whatever the reasons, it did take the political sea change of 1997 to bring it back into its right scale of importance (interview with a former senior Home Office official).
13.3.4 1997 and After: The Quest for Policy Impact
The election of a Labour government in 1997 signalled a more proactive approach (at least initially) to questions of race and integration (Ratcliffe 2001), evident in the amendments in 2000 to the Race Relations Act, which introduced a new duty on all public authorities to promote equal opportunities. New Labour’s election win also had implications for the use of expert knowledge, with calls from ministers for evidence-based policymaking.Footnote 5 This technocratic turn is observable in immigration policy more generally (Boswell 2009), but in the integration field academics such as Parekh and Modood were also quite influential at this time, ‘shaping that early New Labour multiculturalism’ (interview with university researcher). However, this pro-diversity discourse was turned on its head by two focusing events in summer 2001: the ‘milltown riots’ in northern England, followed by 9/11. It is at this point that multiculturalist scholars begin to be sidelined. For example, while New Labour politicians continued to solicit policy advice from Modood on some topics after 2001,Footnote 6 Modood himself acknowledged that policymakers have taken other policy directions that he was not willing to follow:
I’ve become less central or have been marginalised over the last decade (…) People in Whitehall … think I’m not sufficiently addressing the most important issues which are to do with terrorism, extremism, and so on, segregation, ghettoisation, separate communities (interview with Modood).
However, other features of research-policy dialogues in earlier periods continued in the 2000s. The key role played by think-tanks in dialogue structures on integration has already been flagged, and in the 2000s more and more such organisations became interested in this field. In addition to the Runnymede Trust and PSI, which have long focused on race issues, left-of-centre think-tanks such as IPPR, Demos and Policy Network, as well as Civitas and Policy Exchange on the right, have all undertaken research in this area. Think-tanks provide a platform for academics to broadcast their ideas in a way which is more likely to catch policymakers’ attention. Think-tanks also act as bridge between academia and advisory positions within government, as the career paths of a number of prominent actors show.Footnote 7
In terms of knowledge utilisation, the trend observed in the earlier period continues into the current timeframe. Once again there are not many examples of instrumental knowledge use. This would be less surprising were it not for a significant cultural change in academia, with a new willingness on the part of academics to work on applied policy problems. Favell sees this as a dramatic shift:
In reading the citizenship and multicultural theorists of the present day, we need constant reminding that they are not speaking from the same social location as the politicians, judges, and bureaucrats who actually make decisions and implement policies. (…) One by one, prominent academic voices have been incorporated into the wider, state-sponsored production of practical knowledge (Favell 2001: 354–5).
One recent factor reinforcing this desire of academics to seek influence through applied policy research is the clear shift that can be observed in the political economy of university research funding. Since 2008, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have required applicants for funding to demonstrate the likely socio-economic benefits of any proposed research. The same applies to the current nation-wide evaluation of university research, the Research Excellence Framework (2008–2014). Informants viewed this ‘chase’ after policy ‘impact’ as a key constraint. Furthermore, this trend is not limited to public funding, since the various charitable trusts that fund research in the UK, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust, also encourage researchers to seek demonstrable policy impacts.
Funding from European Union sources has also acted as a significant influence in this field. Not only has it driven engagement with new policymaking audiences in the European institutions, it has also stimulated the growing internationalisation of knowledge production. More internationally oriented (and comparativist) scholars have begun to expose the deficiencies of analyses based on ‘national models’ of integration. The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at Oxford (COMPAS) in particular has become the premier centre for migrant integration research in the UK following this shift to internationalisation, supplanting the now defunct CRER at Warwick.
Given this funding-driven growth in applied research, it is hardly surprising that political actors tend to take primacy in coordinating research-policy dialogues on migrant integration. One respondent commented: ‘I don't think there is much deference to the status of academics, at all, from policymakers. It's certainly not the case that people listen when a distinguished professor [speaks]’ (interview with university researcher). The idea that it was normal for policymakers to be ‘on top’ and academic experts to be ‘on tap’ (Scholten 2011: 51) was made very clear in the comments of Home Office officials, who decried the lack of policy-relevant research on migration and integration. Their position was that researchers should be willing to listen to policymakers in order to produce research which ‘[is] playing to the themes which ministers, and often the public, feel are important’ (interview with Home Office official).
A final feature of science-society dialogues on integration in the UK case is the marked preference of policymakers to facilitate dialogues via one particular venue, namely independent commissions. This venue preference has been noted by a number of authors (Favell 2001; Scholten 2011). Ratcliffe finds commissions to be especially prevalent in the UK following focusing events such as ‘race riots’ (Ratcliffe 2001). Commissions engage a wider set of actors beyond those normally involved in policymaking, usually involving some combination of academics, practitioners, and representatives of civil society. As such, commissions are an ideal venue in which to study science-society dialogues, as we elaborate in the next section.