Social Science Research and Public Policies: the Case of Immigration in Belgium

Eric Florence and Marco Martiniello

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Abstract

This paper summarises the major insights of a two-year interuniversity research project carried out between 2001 and 2003. The methodological framework gives a central meaning to the domestic and international political context. After building and analysing a database gathering all Belgian academic research relating to migration and ethnic relations from 1989 to 2002, the two most widely researched domains of education and the labour market were thoroughly investigated in order to assess how social research has affected policy-making and agenda-setting in the field of migration and ethnic relations in Belgium. The weight of history and ideology, the importance of disseminating research results, and the role of institutional structures between research and policy-making, are all highlighted as core determinants of the influence of research. The paper also points to the relevance of an analysis aimed at taking into account the role of different factors – political paradigm, political context, specificity of field, etc. – in the process of knowledge utilisation at the political level. Finally, a series of recommendations are made on improving the links between social science research and policy-making in the field of migration and ethnic relations.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Florence, Eric and Martiniello, Marco. Social Science Research and Public Policies: the Case of Immigration in Belgium. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2005, vol. 7, no.1, pp. 49-67. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol7/issue1/art4

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