Migration: Thinking Again, and Thinking Critically

Think Global considers the issue of migration, from the perspective of global learning

Migration has become a major public policy issue in the UK. It is close to the top of voters’ concerns, and dominates much public discourse. There may be several reasons for this new focus: the breakdown of the traditional political party system and the concurrent rise of parties arguing against immigration; the increase in net immigration into the UK over the past two decades; relative ease of global travel and especially within the expanded EU; the perception of rising ‘push’ factors (conflict/climate change/economic inequality); and economic insecurity from both globalisation and the prolonged economic downturn.

Many believe is likely to stay as a major issue for the foreseeable future. It featured in the 2015 general election and is likely to be a major issue in the 2017 EU referendum. The factors leading to rising immigration into the UK are likely to stay/intensify. Migration is a global issue too – it is not just here in the UK that it is a political and policy issue.

Think Global believes that the level of discourse around migration is often frustratingly poor. The issue can be played to advantage by politicians in what is sometimes referred to as ‘dog whistle politics’. Because of the viewpoint of much of the media, and the effectiveness of organisations like Migration Watch, the arguments against migration are often dominant.

Think again – and think critically

Think Global is challenging people to ‘think again, and think critically’ about migration. We’re urging people to discuss ‘migration’ (that is, the flow and movement of people around the world – it involves people leaving places as well as arriving in other places) rather than ‘immigration’ (which tends to be more of a UK-centric perspective).

There are perspectives on migration which need to be brought out in the debate, linked to our global learning perspective. What is the effect of migration in helping or hindering the creation of a more just and sustainable world? For example:

  • How does migration help to bring down the barriers between people, and help them to develop a global outlook, more tolerant of difference and diversity?
  • What is the effect of migration on the individual migrants, and on the people and societies they both leave behind and join?
  • How is the issue of migration being used destructively, to build barriers between people and to re-inforce power relationships?
  • What is the history of migration as it affects the UK, and what has happened to previous waves of immigrants?