European Immigration Policies as a Problem
: State Power and Authoritarianism

  • Yasha D Maccanico

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This PhD thesis addresses JHA aspects of European immigration policies (external border controls and activities to counter illegal migration) as crucial to the development of the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). Using Jessop’s strategic-relational approach to state power (2016) and Bacchi’s approach to analysing problem representation in public policy (2009), this research investigates developments in this policy field at the EU level and at the national level in Italy and the UK over twenty years to identify and explain their dynamics and their structural and systemic effects. This research views the EU as an ambitious and sophisticated state-building exercise whose stages are well documented, using extensive documentation from the EU and national levels to answer its research questions:

1) In what ways have the JHA aspects of immigration policy formulation and implementation in the EU, Italy and the UK exceeded the remit of migration control?
2) If so, why and how is this happening?
3) What are the consequences of these shifts in terms of authoritarianism?
4) Are immigration policies creating more problems than they are solving?

The answers are provided by focusing on the strategic biases and modes of intervention which apply to immigration policy formulation and implementation, including the promotion of hierarchical relations, the assertion of state power and an intensification in its reach and effects for the people it targets and beyond. The PhD’s main finding is that the structural and systemic effects of immigration policies at the EU and national levels are more geared to creating series of problems to justify state intervention and the expansion of state power(s) capabilities and structures than to solving a problem. JHA aspects of immigration policies are currently a threat for migrants and for European societies, because their expansive effects undermine other positive values and normative frameworks.
Date of Award28 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorAnn Singleton (Supervisor) & Christina Pantazis (Supervisor)

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