(2006) A Contrario. Revue interdisciplinaire de sciences sociales 4(1): 99-116.
This article analyzes the changes that occurred in Swiss immigration policy since the 1990s from two theoretical perspectives. The first focuses on learning processes and highlights the influence of economic expertise on immigration policy reforms in a context of deteriorating socioeconomic conditions. The second concentrates on the employers’ change of preferences and the logics of empowerment resulting from the process of internationalization. From a protectionist policy traditionally designed to provide unskilled foreign labour to the sheltered sectors of the economy, immigration policy in Switzerland turned into a policy whose main objective was to provide high-skilled labour to the competitive sectors of the economy. This was done through limitations on the entry of unskilled non-European foreign labour, by a relative liberalisation of work permits that limited the mobility of foreign workers on the labour market, and by promoting the entry of high-skilled labour.