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Framing and shaping migration governance: the case of EU-Tunisian migration relations

Lixi, Luca (2019) Framing and shaping migration governance: the case of EU-Tunisian migration relations. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Migration governance is an organisational process, which means it centres on how organisations make sense of and respond to signals from their environment. This thesis contributes to the study of migration governance by developing comparative insight into how organisationally bound and ‘situated’ migration governance processes in Tunisia and at European Union (EU) level relate to each other and, through their actions and inactions, define the challenges that they face. An abundance of literature is available on the ‘EU’s external migration governance’. However, much of this literature focuses on the policy outputs produced, or the policy outcomes determined, often reaching assumptions on processes of migration governance based on these analyses. As the EU has been the main driver of this policy production, the literature developed is largely Eurocentric, and often fails to give adequate and equal consideration to non-EU state dynamics. To address these issues, the thesis develops an actor-centred analysis of the organisational processes through which migration is conceptualised in the EU and in Tunisia, building from theories that value the importance of framing and sensemaking. Based on forty three interviews with migration governance actors across the two cases and extensive use of the primary and secondary literature, it analyses the dual meaning of migration governance, as actors first need to make sense of migration diagnosing its causes and consequences; and then prognosing a line of work that follows such diagnoses. The thesis finds that migration governance systems play a key role in defining migration and its challenges, rather than being simply externally impacted by them. By understanding the importance of cognitive biases and dissonance in shaping individual understandings and thus actions, it shows that contrary to what much of the available literature assumes, the EU is failing to externalise its priorities and associated meanings of migration, and EU-Tunisian migration relations remain a field of profound contestation. Firstly, the EU is not as strong as expected in this ‘profusion’ of its ideas because the thesis shows that these are contested in the EU itself. This notwithstanding, the thesis shows that the EU is driven by a framing of migration related to crisis, which urges action. Tunisia actively resists the profusion of migration frames and policies of migration from the EU preferring inaction, which aligns with a rights-based approach that emerged after the 2011 revolution and which included the right to mobility, and a view of Tunisian migration as an opportunity for the country. As such, a clash characterizes these relations, between the products of EU framings of migration, such as return and readmission, and Tunisian ones, such as increasing mobility for its citizens.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.792048
Depositing User: Luca LL Lixi
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2019 10:15
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2019 11:05
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25310

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