Global Migration Lecture Series
woven waves

Settling into Motion - Migration Research in the Public Sphere

Prof. Thomas Faist, Moderator, Prof. Vincent Chetail
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Settling into Motion - Migration Research in the Public Sphere

Public debates on migration and refugee flows often raise the question whether and in what ways social scientific research may form a basis for rational political decisions. The main thesis put forward is that such a question is ultimately misleading. Social scientific research may offer crucial information for describing, understanding and explaining migration processes. The most important role of social science is not to give policy advice but to offer concepts and patterns of interpretations – based on empirical research – which can guide debates in the public sphere. This means that social scientific analysis should go beyond focusing on research-policy links, and bring the social scientists’ role in the public sphere in a much more forceful way. First, this lecture develops a typology of interventions into the public sphere – migration researchers as experts, advocates, and public intellectuals. Second, the discussion deals with the public career of selected ideas from research on circular migration and concepts meant to help increase the autonomy of refugees.

Thomas Faist is Professor of Transnational, Development & Migration Studies at Bielefeld University, Germany. His research focuses on international migration, ethnic relations, social policy, and transnationalization and has published widely in these fields