Us and Them? The dangerous politics of immigration controls

Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control, a new book by COMPAS researcher Bridget Anderson, examines migration within a long history of control over the mobility of the unsettled poor. Restrictions and punishments previously imposed on vagrants and ‘masterless men’ are now the preserve of immigration controls, but the similarities between the 'migrant' and the 'vagabond' are missed because the migrant is a foreigner.

This book examines the construction of differences between the foreigner and the citizen, and asks when and why do these differences matter, and what are their consequences. It argues that modern states portray themselves not as arbitrary collections of people tied together by a common legal status but as communities of value, imagined to comprise people who share common ideals and (exemplary) patterns of behaviour. The community of value is national in that it is defined from the outside by the Non-Citizen (the Migrant), but it is importantly also defined from the inside by the Failed Citizen (the Criminal, the Benefit Scrounger, the Prostitute and so on). Strong efforts are made to keep the Non-Citizen and the Failed Citizen apart, but analysing them together sheds new light on the Good Citizen and the politics of (Good) citizenship.

Us and Them? theorises immigration debates in order to re-politicise them and to demonstrate their relevance to wider politics. Immigration controls not only impact on 'them' but also have profound consequences for 'us'.

Download the Introduction to Us and Them?

It is available for order from Oxford University Press or Amazon.


Book Endorsements

Don Flynn, Director of the Migrants' Rights Network says: "The theme of the 'good' citizen versus the shiftless skiver is running amok across British politics at the current time. Expert commentators working in the field of poverty and social exclusion have begun to unravel the potentially dangerous consequences this is having for mainstream welfare policy. In this work, Professor Anderson takes all these issues into the troubled world of immigration and integration policy, where the discourse is also about the presumed qualities migrants might have which mark them out as being either 'good' or 'bad'. Her thesis takes critical assessment of what is going on here and takes the debate onto a whole new terrain. It deserves to make a huge impact on the thinking of everyone who cares about these issues."


24 Oct 2013 - It's not all immigrants who the Tories fear. It's the mobile poor by Zoe Williams, The Guardian

Oct 2013 - Book review by Dirk Hoerder, Social History Online Issue 11

19 Sep 2013 - The man on the tube and the community of value by Luca Gefäller, The Migrationist

Sep 2013 - Who are the ‘Us’ and who are the ‘Them’? by Biao Xiang, Anti-Trafficking Review, Issue 2