The paper is a critical review of the current research on the role and functioning of immigration policies. The paper argues that the role of migration policies in shaping population movements is by now widely acknowledged in the social sciences literature. The available literature on actual immigration policies, particularly in Western European states, is however characterized by several debates between sharply polarized positions. As example, some talk of a "fortress Europe", while others stress a structural crisis of immigration controls. Such dialogues among deaf are caused by an inadequate level of terminological clarity and by the lack of adequate empirical data. The paper, however, argues that such debates are constrained also by some theoretical limits. As the critical review reveals, most of the conceptual models adopted by the scholars of migration policies are rooted into the political economy tradition. The paper suggests that an alternative theoretical framework, rooted in a sociology of the political system, could be more productive for the current research problems of the field.
Citizenship and immigration: conditions and elements of social policies