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The present thematic issue of UNESCO’s International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS) takes up previous debates on migration and multiculturalism (Vol. 5, No 1 & 2; Vol. 6, No 2) by asking a particularly salient question: What has been the link between academic research and public policy making in the field of migration and ethnic relations?
This question, which at its more fundamental level is related to deep-seated epistemological and methodological controversies over objectivity in the social sciences, is of utmost practical relevance in the field of migration and multiculturalism which has been characterized by rather close relations to public policy concerns. By taking for granted the idea of the nation-state, with its strong external territorial boundaries and internal cultural homogeneity, academic research has tended to reproduce the historically contingent conceptions of statehood and national identity, thus falling victim to what is now being criticised as “methodological nationalism” (Glick-Schiller / Wimmer 2003). To be sure, recent debates on post-national membership and transnational migrant communities have gone beyond these orientations. However, large portions of empirical studies on migration and multiculturalism do continue to be related to short-term concerns of national public policy (see e.g. Favell 2001). In fact, not only do many scholars act as policy-advisors, public intellectuals or engaged citizens taking an activist stance on highly controversial questions such as border control, immigration quota, recognition of cultural differences and the like, but also the very research questions, analytical categories, and theoretical frameworks employed by academics are affected by policy-makers’ modes of perception.
Suggested bibligraphic reference for this article:
Koenig, Matthias. Editorial. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2005, vol. 7, no.1, pp. 1-2. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol7/issue1/ed