CfP Panel “Informalization in Migration Governance: Theorizing its Forms and Impact Beyond the Global North”- 2022 ECPR General Conference

CfP Panel “Informalization in Migration Governance: Theorizing its Forms and Impact Beyond the Global North”- 2022 ECPR General Conference

Panel Chairs: Davide Gnes (University of Amsterdam) and Katharina Natter (University of Leiden)

ECPR General Conference University, Innsbruck (Austria)- 22-26 August- Section “S21- International Migration Governance: Policies and Practices in Diverse Societies” (endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group Migration and Ethnicity)


Panel abstract: Informalization, or the growing adoption of non-legally binding ‘instruments,’ ‘tools’ and ‘arrangements’, has become commonplace in the governance of migration across domestic and international arenas (Betts 2011; Terpan and Saurugger 2021; Slagter 2019). The literature has covered several aspects of this trend: the conceptual blurring between hard and soft law (Terpan 2015); the ambiguous motivations of states, international organizations or regional institutions for using soft law (Slominski and Trauner 2021; Pauwelyn, Wessel and Wouters 2014; Nassar and Stel 2019); the legal implications of such instruments for democratic decision-making, separation of powers and executive accountability (Wessel, 2021). Nonetheless, we still have limited knowledge of how informalization influences actual policy-making processes in migration governance, for example by (dis)empowering certain institutional actors and/or de(legitimizing) particular narratives/frames that limit available policy options. The issue of how informalization may further exacerbate current trends in migration policy, such as securitization or externalization of migration control to third countries, remains likewise underexplored. Considering the dominant focus of the literature on informalization in the Global North, we also lack a robust understanding of similar processes in the Global South and of how the latter may contribute to a more sophisticated theorizing of informalization (Natter 2021; Stel 2021). For this panel, we welcome papers that empirically (qualitatively or quantitatively) discuss the impact of informalization on migration governance, particularly regarding inter-institutional relations and/or policy outcomes. Papers may examine informalization across different geographical contexts (national, regional, cross-regional, global) and sub-policy fields (readmission and return, border controls, protection or legal migration). We also welcome papers that discuss diffusion of informalization practices across policy fields, geographical regions and institutional actors, as well as practices of contestation of informalization by institutional or non-governmental actors.


Please submit your paper proposals (including a title, a 250-word paper abstract, and the name, institutional affiliation of the authors) to Davide Gnes ( and Katharina Natter ( by Monday, February 7 2022.


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