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ten - Load-shedding and reloading: changes in government responsibility – the case of Israeli immigration and integration policy, 2004–10

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 February 2022

Gaby Ramia
Affiliation:
The University of Sydney
Kevin Farnsworth
Affiliation:
University of York
Zoë Irving
Affiliation:
University of York
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Summary

Introduction

The period 2004–10 was one of relative stability in Israeli immigration and integration policy. This is because there was no major change in the number of migrants coming to Israel or in their countries of origin, and there was no crisis in this sphere either. However, as this chapter demonstrates, by the end of 2010, one can discern that there has, in fact, been a major shift in immigration and integration policy orientation from a ‘categorical universal’ policy, where all the migrants receive the same assistance regardless of their economic status (Gal, 2008), to a selective policy, where more assistance is given to highly skilled migrants. Thus, it seems, Israel has entered the global ‘race for talent’ – the competition for highly skilled migrants (Shachar, 2006). A closer look reveals that Israeli immigration and integration policy has been simultaneously moving slowly along what seem to be two opposing paths. On the one hand, migrant integration services are being privatised, with the transfer of some government responsibilities for providing and producing services to the private sector. On the other hand, the government has increased its involvement in migrant integration policy by financing and regulating new services or by expanding old ones.

This chapter aims to explain this duality and to analyse the process of change using the framework of ‘gradual transformative institutional change’ (Streeck and Thelen, 2005), which enables scholars to analyse significant policy change during periods of stability. It also draws on the ideational approach in institutional analysis (see, eg, Béland, 2007), which helps to explain the mode and direction of change. The chapter focuses on the three subfields in Israeli immigration and integration policy that have undergone the most significant gradual transformative change and are central in the global ‘race for talent’ policy (Shachar, 2006): immigration encouragement, employment and returning emigrants.

The analysis presents three arguments. First, the incrementally evolving dual process has resulted in a transformative change: the shift of Israeli integration policy from universal to selective. Second, this transformative change has taken place through ‘layering’ – new arrangements that grow on top of pre-existing structures, intended to serve different purposes (Streeck and Thelen, 2005).

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Social Policy Review 25
Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2013
, pp. 183 - 202
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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