The notion of multilevel governance (MLG), having become the canonical analytical framework to explore characteristics of immigrant policymaking on different governance levels and the interdependencies between these levels (Poppelaars and Scholten 2008, Zincone and Caponio 2007), has begun to be disputed. Next to its conceptual vagueness (Caponio and Jones Correa 2017), scholars have pointed out that the MLG framework has limited explanatory potential for de-coupling between national and local policymaking (Scholten 2012), for urban actors’ self-reliance in developing and promoting their own policy logics (Schiller 2015, 2021), and for situations where local ‘zones of negotiation’ (Hinger et al 2016) turn into ‘battlegrounds’ (Dimitriadis et al 2021).
This Special Issue brings together empirical insights on policymaking processes in small and medium-sized cities and rural areas in different contexts in Europe and beyond to examine how relationships on and between levels and actors can develop in unpredictable ways and how immigrant policy logics are often interwoven and contradictory. We argue that, distinctively from existing literature, a focus on small localities is crucial in order to reveal and make sense of immigrant policy and policymaking processes that challenge conventional ideas of multilevelness. Exploring novel theoretical developments – including but not limited to complexity governance (Cairney and Geyer 2015, Klijn 2008, Scholten 2020) – enables us to avoid treating levels in purely institutional terms. Instead of considering different actors and levels as unified, linear and stable in the policy logics they pursue, the contributions of this issue, by focusing on small localities, throw light on instances when policy logics get entangled and when confusion and conflicts between actors and levels result in unconventional policy approaches. Expanding scholarship on immigrant policymaking and governance in novel directions, they collectively theorize how multi-actor and multi-level relationships and the negotiation of different policy logics can involve ‘messy institutions’ (Ney and Verweij 2015) and ‘clumsy’ or ‘polyrational’ policy solutions (Verweij and Thompson 2006).
Keywords: immigrant policymaking, local, national, government, civil society, governance, complexity
Proposals should include a 250-word abstract and the affiliation and contact details of the author(s).
Deadline for submission is 3 December 2022. Please submit your proposal to