Migration Policy in Multilevel Political Settings. City Networks in Europe and North America (MInMUS)

MInMUS investigated why, how and with what effects City Networks (CNs henceforth) voluntarily mobilise to enhance cities’ capacity to take part in complex multilevel governance processes of policymaking and promote innovative approaches to migration. It did so by examining four CNs in three multilevel political settings, i.e. the supranational EU system and federalist states of Canada and the United States.

The main goal of the project was that of contributing to the theorisation of the link between CNs and Multilevel Governance (MLG) in the migration policy field. Contrary to the prevailing normative approach underlying much literature on MLG, the project adopted a critical perspective. MLG is conceptualised as a specific configuration of policymaking that challenges state-centred hierarchies (vertical dimension) and blurs state-society boundaries (horizontal dimension). By bringing research on migration policy into conversation with the multidisciplinary field of study on cities’ international networking and with political science literature on MLG, MInMUS: i) identified the mechanisms and factors that account for the establishment of CNs and changes in their functioning (why questions); ii) highlighted the specific configurations that CNs can take (how); iii) assessed CNs political impact in terms of policy convergence (with what effects).

Addressing the still under-theorised link between CNs and MLG on the topical migration issue is of crucial relevance today also from a substantive point of view. In the last decade the initiatives aimed at establishing links between cities experiencing similar migration challenges have been multiplying in Europe and North America, sparking confidence in local-level pragmatism as opposed to national ideological sclerosis. Through the building of horizontal networks, often of a transnational type, cities aim today to become crucial actors in migration governance, influencing from below national and/or supranational policymaking processes. Yet, if and to what extent cities and their networks are able to deal with migration in a more pragmatic and effective manner is an open – and often contested – matter.


Researchers associated with this project:

Tiziana Caponio

  • T. Caponio (2019), City networks and the multilevel governance of migration: towards a research agenda, in T. Caponio, P. Scholten and R. Zapata eds., The Routledge Handbook of the Governance of Migration and Diversity in Cities, Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 182-192.