The normative foundations of 'policy implications': Reflections on international labour migration
journal contributionposted on 23.02.2010, 16:57 by David Bartram
Sociologists, when offering suggestions for policy arising from their empirical research, typically do not provide explicit reflection on the values or interests such policy implications are meant to advance. This paper illustrates why such reflection can be important, by showing how different normative assumptions lead to different policy suggestions concerning international labour migration. In a conventional neo-classical economics view, labour migration brings obvious gains to the migrants themselves; ‘revealed preferences’ is sufficient to know that such gains exist. In a ‘happiness studies’ perspective, however, those benefits are not nearly as obvious, and a discussion of implications for labour migration policy might come to quite different conclusions. In general, the quality of one’s suggestions for policy implications is likely to be enhanced via greater awareness of the normative positions embedded in such views.