Stuck between mainstreaming and localism: views on the practice of migrant integration in a devolved policy framework

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In this paper, we explore views on the implementation of migrant integration ‘policy’ in a setting characterised by devolution, using data collected among local and national policy stakeholders in the UK. More specifically, we focus on localism and mainstreaming, which have recently dominated policy debates and endeavours about integration. Our findings shed new light on the challenges and opportunities of these strategies as they are perceived and experienced by policy stakeholders. In particular, we reflect on the important interplay between different levels of governance and the tensions that arise out of these in a devolved context. Our evidence suggests that the shift from centralised to localised policy action is faced with several challenges. First of all, there is a contradiction between the localism agenda, with the devolution of powers and responsibilities, and the context of austerity. Secondly, there are frictions between levels of governance in the devolved UK context, and particularly on how the implementation of integration at the local level is affected by non-devolved policies. Finally, with regard to mainstreaming the need for a more flexible policy approach that recognises and embraces the complexity and dynamism of the integration process is emphasised.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685–702
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Early online date21 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • Integration, Immigration, Policy, Localism, Mainstreaming