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Law Breaking and Law Bending: How International Migrants Negotiate with State Borders

Schwartz, Cassilde and Simon, Miranda and Hudson, David and Johnson, Shane D (2020) 'Law Breaking and Law Bending: How International Migrants Negotiate with State Borders.' International Studies Quarterly, Online. ISSN 0020-8833

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Abstract

Many countries have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to stop unauthorized migration, but most evidence suggests that immigration en- forcement policies do not effectively deter migrants. We draw on literat- ure from social psychology, specifically the dual-system model of decision- making, which differentiates between judgments that are subject to consider- ations of risks and costs and judgments that are ‘non-consequentialist’. Non- consequentialist decision-making is founded in moral intuition and rejects ra- tional considerations of costs and benefits. This mental process would render the deterrence tools of the state powerless. We posit that some, but not all, forms of unauthorized migration will invoke non-consequentialist decision- making. When considering semi-legal strategies, which individuals may per- ceive as ‘bending the law’ rather than breaking it, aspiring migrants are likely to weigh the risks and costs of enforcement policies. Meanwhile, when considering fully illegal migration strategies, aspiring migrants will prioritize moral considerations for breaking the law rather than the consequences of breaking the law. We find evidence for our theory using original population- based list experiments along with focus groups with aspiring migrants in an origin country.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2020 12:54
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2021 16:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28810

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