This article aims to understand why the Turkish state actors participated in the 2016 European Union (EU)–Turkey agreement in the name of managing the so-called migration crisis. At first glance, this move may seem contrary to its interests in a context where Turkey’s accession to the EU was no longer a probable political project. In explaining Turkish state actors’ enthusiasm for the 2016 agreement which led to the containment of migrants and refugees in Turkey, the literature often highlights the question of material gains, both economic and strategic. In this article, I argue that the symbolic dimension is critical for understanding why Turkish actors participated in migration containment away from EU borders. I offer the notion of symbolic rewards to make sense of this process. These rewards brought Turkey into a “good” migration governance in-group. This article argues that there was incremental consolidation of Turkey’s active role in European migration governance well before the crisis. My findings are based on ethnographic data comprising interviews as well as participant observation at the head office of an international migration organization.
Cite this article
Fine, S. (2023). Symbolic Rewards as Migration Diplomacy: Crisis and Containment in EU–Turkey Migration Cooperation. American Behavioral Scientist, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/00027642231183271