How Unpopular Policies are Made: Examples from South Africa, Singapore and Bangladesh

Ingrid Palmary, Thea de Gruchy, ASM Ali Ashraf, Chiu Yee Koh, Kellynn Wee, Charmian Goh and Brenda S.A. Yeoh (2018) How Unpopular Policies are Made: Examples from South Africa, Singapore and BangladeshInternational Migration (Special Issue) [OPEN ACCESS]

In this article we contribute to the emerging knowledge on migration policy-making in two ways. Firstly, we address the relative lack of research on the gendered nature of migration policy-making. Secondly, we contribute to understanding migration policy-making in postcolonial contexts. Based on case studies from Bangladesh, South Africa, and Singapore, we trace the drivers of policy change in these contexts and how the gendered vulnerability of the intended beneficiaries impacted the policy process. We found that there were four main drivers of migration policy-making in each of the countries. They were: the role-players in the policy change process, the debates that shaped the policy change, the research involved, and the political context in which the policy change took place. While our research drew on existing policy frameworks, it also showed that policy development is shaped by complex sociopolitical conditions.

About Thea de Gruchy

Thea de Gruchy is a postdoctoral researcher at the ACMS working on migration and health. Since the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic in South Africa, much of Thea's work has pivoted to exploring the effect of the pandemic and implications of the South African state's response to the pandemic for migrant and mobile populations. As part of this work, Thea helps to coordinate the Migration and Coronavirus in Southern African group (MiCoSA).

Her PhD research, which was supervised by Jo Vearey, funded by the Wellcome Trust and part of the Migration and Health Project (maHp) at ACMS, centred on questions of policy process and asked how policy is made and influenced in South Africa. In 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Thea worked with Ingrid Palmary to answer some of these questions and inform a conceptual framework on how policy is made in South Africa using the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2013 as a case study. Her doctoral work uses a case study of health and occupational safety policy in the South African agricultural sector to elaborate on and develop this framework.

Thea’s MA, which was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), focused on the immigration industry and the relationship between the state, immigration intermediaries, and migrants. Part of this research explored the increasing precarity experienced by immigrants in South Africa as a result of changing and increasingly stringent immigration policy and regulations. Having received a Faculty of Humanities Ad Hoc Grant from the University of the Witwatersrand for 2016 to follow on with some of this research and as part of the Security at the Margins (SeaM) project – a collaborative project between ACMS and the Centre for African Studies at the University of Edinburgh – she continues to be interested in the relationship between policy, specifically policy framed in terms of security, and the precarity of marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Thea currently co-ordinates the PhD Work in Progress seminars at the ACMS.