The Role of the State in Migration Control

The Legitimacy Gap and Moves towards a Regional Model


This research questions the seemingly ossified premise that states have an absolute discretion to control international migration. Applying Max Weber’s theories of legitimacy, it determines that while states have certain traditionally legitimate functions, migration control, as distinct from the determination of citizenship, is not one such function. Measures of migration control must thus be justified on a rational-legal basis, that is, on a minimal evidential basis.

Acknowledging the many obstacles states face in carrying out this legitimising exercise, it is suggested that a supranational approach at the regional level is the most sustainable long-term model, with an ultimate aim of achieving inter-regional cooperation on migration management on the basis of equality between regions.
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Biographical Note

Aoife McMahon, Ph.D. (Trinity College Dublin), B.L., is a practising barrister who has been involved in several preliminary references made to the C.J.E.U. She has lectured and published articles in the areas of E.U. law, Administrative law and Immigration law.

Table of contents

Excerpt of table of contents:
1. The Concept of the State and its Justification
Introduction; §1 From social organisation to political organisation; §2 Justifying political power; Conclusion
2. Development of State Control of Migration
Introduction; §1 Early migration control; §2 The turning point to general and systematic control; §3 Continued and enhanced state control of migration; Conclusion
3. Limits on State Control
Introduction; §1 International protection; §2 Fundamental rights regimes; §3 Regional migration regimes; §4 The global free market economy; Conclusion
4. Defining the Object of Control
Introduction; §1 Understanding migration; §2 An economic approach; §3 The contribution of sociology; §4 The contribution of demography: empirical data; Conclusion
5. Legitimacy of State Control
Introduction; §1 Movement as distinct from membership; §2 Based on tradition; §3 Based on rationality; Conclusion
6. Obstacles to Legitimising State Control
Introduction; §1 Technical incapacity; §2 Competing political interests; §3 The economic free market parallel; Conclusion
7. Moving beyond the Status Quo
Introduction; §1 At the national level; §2 At the global level; §3 At the regional level; Conclusion
Conclusion, Index.


This research is relevant to academics, policy-makers and practitioners in the field of migration law and policy. Its interdisciplinary aspects are also relevant to such disciplines as economics and sociology.