Migration and integration issues have become perhaps the most debated issues of our time, this also applies globally. For various reasons, “hard facts” and research seem to play a minor role in both the public debate and policymaking in this area. It has motivated a desire to have a more fact- and evidence-based debate so that political decision-making does not have to rely on anecdotes, or pure misunderstandings for that matter. The idea is that facts and expertise are something rational and transparent, whose truth content can be tested. Against this mobilizes the populists who fundamentally question "experts" and facts.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • Migration and integration are closely linked to classic political issues of the organization of society. Thus, migration and integration do not take place in a vacuum and are affected by the organization of other social institutions.
  • This means that the migration debate is never about just migration, but also about which society is desired by those who participate in the public conversation. 
  • Researchers need the help of research policy makers to strengthen the incentives to make research results available to the wider public.
  • The research community seems to have a great potential for improvement, but this presupposes that it extents outwards towards politics and debate. The probability increases that researchers ask policy-relevant questions if the interaction with the other spheres of society is intense.
  • The media can play an important role by being a neutral communicator of facts that are added to the public discourse - without them for that reason relinquishing the role of critical examiner of both researchers and politicians.
  • Politicians and decision-makers must be influenced to a greater extent by research and expertise. It presupposes that politicians dare to challenge their prejudices and wishful thinking.

About the authors

The book "Bridging the Gaps (2019:1)" is published by Oxford University Press and Martin Ruhs, Kristof Tamas and Joakim Palme are the editors. A number of researchers and experts from different disciplines and countries share their experiences on how the gap can be  bridged: William Allen, Scott Blinder, Grete Brochmann, Elizabeth Collett, Howard Duncan, Han Entzinger, Monique Kremer, Katy Long, Philip Martin, Robert McNeil, Martin Ruhs, Peter Scholten, Kristof Tamas, Agnieszka Weinar and Klaus Zimmermann all have chapters in the volume.

Picture by Diego PH from Unsplash.