Analysing immigration control policy : a case study regarding the amendment of Art. 16 (2) of the German Constitution
This thesis formulates a methodologically flexible approach for the study of immigration control policy which emphasises structure and agency and applies this approach to a case study of the amendment of Art. 16 (2) of the German constitution in May 1993. Although authors of immigration studies have increasingly acknowledged structures and actors since the 1990s only a few have analysed explicitly the theoretical and methodological implications of the structure-agency link in the context of immigration policy. It is therefore the aim of this thesis to evaluate existing approaches in the context of the structure-agency link and to formulate and apply a theoretical model for the study of immigration control policy which acknowledges the link between structure and agency. To fulfil a flexible investigation of social structures and social actors my theoretical model is combining a conceptual framework approach with analytical dualism and formulates three layers of analysis: (i) an analysis of the contrasts between an objective analysis of the wider environment and politicians' perceptions of it, (ii) a study of the relationship between politicians and normative and interactive structures in the closer political party environment and (iii) an in-depth analysis of politicians' justifications. The findings of my case study highlight that the structural context in the early 1990s was advantageous for a constitutional change in Germany. Supporters of the amendment made good use of this situation, while opponents failed actively to challenge the political context and, instead, worsened their already unfavourable position through their own actions. Further, a grounded theory analysis of politicians' justifications found that supporters and opponents emphasised the same core themes: both stressed the existence of an asylum problem and the promotion of humanitarianism. However, a closer analysis revealed that supporters and opponents set these themes into different conceptual and causal contexts. For example, supporters defined humanitarianism in a (socially and geographically) limited context, while opponents reflected a less restrictive use of humanitarianism. The findings also highlight that developments in the wider environment such as increasing asylum applications, decreasing recognition rates, rises in xenophobic attacks and electoral successes of the far right were misconceived by politicians and created a moral panic with regard to national stability. This misconception was not only based on an exaggeration of the situation but also on incorrect explanations of developments in the wider environment. In conclusion, the thesis substantiates theoretically and empirically my claim that immigration policy needs to be analysed through a proper investigation of the interplay between agency and structure; neither structural accounts nor agency based analyses are sufficient to understand the making of immigration policy.