Settling into Conceptual Motion: The Role of Migration Sociologists in Constituting the Nexus between Research and the Public Sphere

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Thomas FAIST, Bielefeld University, Sociology, Bielefeld, Germany
Academic and public debates on forced migration and labour migration often raise the question whether and in what ways social scientific research may form a basis for rational political decisions and “best practices”. The main argument in this paper is that such a question is ultimately misleading. Sociological research may indeed offer crucial information for describing, understanding and explaining (post-) migration processes. Ultimately, however, the logics of the scientific and political/policy systems are different. 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 political debates in the public sphere. This means that sociological 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. Based on empirical research in selected European countries, including Turkey, this analysis discusses selected concepts which have found their way from research into public debates, such as diaspora, externalization of control, and inclusion.