Six Impossible Ideas (after Brexit)

We’ve teamed up with researchers from the London School of Economics for this course consisting of 6 episodes, each one centered around a seemingly impossible idea about migration.

We’ve challenged each of our lecturers to propose an idea about migration that appears self-evident to them but is missing, misunderstood, or misinterpreted in public conversation.

All episodes are linked below. Each episode consists of:

  • Bite-sized videos (3-5 mins)
  • A smidge of introductory text
  • Resources for further thought and exploration.
PART 1/6

Are Migrants City-Takers or City-Makers?

Meet Suzi Hall, an architect-ethnographer and Director of the LSE Cities programme, who studies the inner workings of multi-ethnic streets in five British cities. Suzi took us to a super-diverse street in South London, Peckham’s Rye Lane, where proprietors from more than 20 countries run their businesses on the 10-min long stretch.

We asked Suzi what we can learn from Rye Lane, in terms of how migrants get on the job ladder, what streets like this mean for the economy, and what we can learn about the ways migration shapes modern cities.

What can an ordinary street tell us about modern diversity?

Why is Rye Lane important for the economy?

From Rye Lane to the big picture

Meet the Expert

Suzi Hall speaking on the street

Suzi Hall

Suzi is Director of the Cities Programme in the Department of Sociology and Senior Research Associate at LSE Cities at LSE. For the past nine years her work has focused on high streets in marginalised parts of cities across the UK, spanning Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, London, and Manchester. Suzi’s research encompasses the global processes of migration and urbanisation that continue to shape UK Cities, and explores how the structures of inequality and racism intersect with everyday practices of resistance and city-making. She is currently working on an ESRC research project on Super-diverse Streets: Economies and spaces of urban migration in UK Cities.

PART 2/6

Do Migrants Take Away Jobs?

Many people think that migrants take jobs away from citizens, reduce wages or both. But you may also have heard the argument that immigrants benefit the economy because they take risks and start businesses. So, who’s right?

We took this question to Alan Manning, Professor of Economics at LSE. In three short videos, Alan explains how migration affects your job prospects, presents the data from the UK and the world, and gives insights on managing migration in light of this evidence.

Will a migrant take your job? (Part 1)

Will a migrant take your job? (Part 2)

Alan's thoughts on migration policy

Meet the Expert

Alan Manning speaking on a rooftop with out-of-focus buildings in the background

Alan Manning

Alan is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Director of the Community Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE. His research generally covers labour markets, with a focus on imperfect competition (monopsony), minimum wages, job polarisation, immigration, and gender. On immigration, his interests expand beyond the economy to issues such as social housing, minority groups, and identity. Alan holds a DPhil in Economics from Oxford University. For more on Alan’s work, visit his personal website.

PART 3/6

Do Borders Affect Your Freedom?

“Make America great again”, “Au nom du peuple” (in the name of the people), “Wir sind das Volk” (we are the people). All these slogans promise citizens the ease and comfort of regaining control of their countries from migrants and outsiders.

This desire for collective control is understandable but deeply problematic, says Chandran Kukathas, Head of LSE Government.

Chandran’s impossible idea is that restricting immigration doesn’t just affect those on the “outside”, but the citizens inside, as well.

What do "open borders" really mean?

What is the price of your control?

What are the dangers of collective control?

Meet the Expert

Chandran Kukathas

Chandran is Chair in Political Theory and Head of Department at LSE Government. He completed his MA in Politics at the University of New South Wales before going on to a DPhil in Politics at Oxford University. His research interests are focused on the history of liberal thought and multiculturalism. His book, The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom, explores the principled basis of a free society marked by cultural diversity and group loyalties.

PART 4/6

Should Borders Separate or Connect?

In our political and media narratives, we often operate with binary notions: secure or insecure borders, legal or illegal immigration. Ruben Andersson, an anthropologist and Associate Professor at Oxford University who researches undocumented migration from West Africa to Southern Europe, challenges this way of thinking.

Andersson immerses himself in the reality of migration, accompanying migrants, border guards, and aid workers to present the impact of the migration control industry from their perspectives.

Apart from the usual three questions, we’ve linked to two full chapters from Andersson’s book, Illegality, Inc., winner of the 2015 British Sociological Association/BBC Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award.

Thinking of borders as points of connection

Will deals like the one with Turkey reduce migration?

Let's talk about solutions

Meet the Expert

Ruben Andersson speaking outside with out-of-focus trees in background

Ruben Andersson

Ruben is Associate Professor at Oxford University’s Department of International Development and Associate Researcher at Stockholm University’s Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on migration, borders, and security. His book, Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe, documents the vast industry built around undocumented migration. Currently, he is investigating the risks and danger associated with international intervention in Mali and the wider sub-Saharan Sahel region.

PART 5/6

Can the Media Make Us More Welcoming?

Is the European media reflecting the “refugee crisis” or helping create it? This is the question posed by Myria Georgiou from LSE Communications in her project analysing how newspapers in nine European countries covered the so-called refugee crisis in 2015.

Myria’s seemingly impossible idea is for the media to be more productive in helping us understand complex issues around migration.

How did European press cover the refugee crisis?

How did the press coverage change over time?

How does coverage differ between countries and regions in Europe?

Meet the Expert

Myria Georgiou speaking on the street

Myria Georgiou

Myria is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department at the Department of Media and Communications, LSE. She has a PhD in Sociology from LSE, an MSc in Journalism from Boston University, and a BA in Sociology from Panteion University, Athens. Her research focuses on the media and the city; urban technologies and politics of connection; and the ways in which migration and diaspora are politically, culturally, and morally constituted in the context of mediation. For more than 20 years she has been conducting and leading cross-national and trans-urban research across Europe, as well as between British and American cities.

PART 6/6

Integration: What Works and What Doesn't Work?

The integration of refugees and migrants is a policy priority for every European government right now. However, according to Dominik Hangartner, political scientist at LSE Government, we know surprisingly little about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to integration.

Dominik’s impossible idea is that we should seek empirical answers to these questions and turn them into more effective policies. In this episode, he answers three such questions. We’ve turned them into 2-minute explainers, but should you want to read the original research, we’ve linked to that, too.

European attitudes to asylum-seekers

Costs of a slow asylum process

How does citizenship affect integration?

Meet the Expert

Dominik Hangartner speaking outside with buildings and trees in the background

Dominik Hangartner

Dominik is Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Faculty Co-Director of the Migration Policy Lab at the University of Zurich. He completed pre-doctoral fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University, going on to earn his PhD from the University of Bern. Dominik has written extensively on attitudes towards immigrants and migration policies. You can find more links to his work on his personal website.