Download: Migration and Social Transformation

London School of Economics and Political Science
The Migration Studies Unit Inaugural Lecture
Migration and Social Transformation
Professor Stephen Castles
University of Oxford
Chair: Professor David Held
London School of Economics and Political Science
Ambivalent consequences
for migration studies
– Growing need for data collection, research, analysis
– Socially-relevant: addresses needs of migrants,
affected communities, civil society, governments.
– Migration studies is: ‘policy-relevant’, ‘engaged with
users’, ‘in the national interest’
– Research is policy-driven
– Focus on short-term policy concerns of governments
and international agencies
– Funders determine research questions, methods,
even findings
Migration policy failure; role of migration studies
Politicisation of migration
‘Conventional wisdoms’ about migration today
New directions in migration theory
Social transformation as an analytical framework
Consequences for:
– Theory
– methods
– organisation of research
• Revisiting some ‘conventional wisdoms’
Migration policy failure
US attempts to prevent irregular migration from Mexico
– IRCA 1986
– Operation Gatekeeper 1994
 12m irregular residents
Australia’s postwar migration program,
 now one of the world’s most diverse countries
Germany’s guestworker program
 family reunion, settlement, new ethnic minorities
Temporary migration policies in Asia
 already leading to longer stay and greater diversity
Social science
and migration
‘Methodological nationalism’:
– Nation-state as frame: national models:
– Control and integration of ‘dangerous’ classes
– ‘Forgetting difference vital to national identity (Renan)
– ‘Rationality’ = giving up ‘pre-industrial’ culture (Weber)
– ‘Re-socialisation’ into ‘modern norms’ (Park)
Neo-classical economic theory:
– focus on individual income maximisation
Disciplinary fragmentation
The politicisation of
migration research
International migration is at the crux of the
contradiction between:
• The national principle of sovereignty: right
of states to control cross-border flows
• Transnational principle of global mobility:
– Flows of capital and commodities crucial to
the ‘new economy’
– Flows of people and cultures: seen as a threat
to the nation-state
The walls you can’t see
Restrictive asylum policies
Visa requirements
Carrier sanctions: turning airline staff into
immigration officials
• ‘Safe third countries’
• Surveillance of minorities: ‘the enemy
• Privileged entry and status for highly-skilled and
• Containment of refugees and exclusion of
asylum seekers
• ‘Side-doors’ for less-skilled:
– New guestworkers
– Working holidaymakers etc.
• Undocumented entry and employment: preferred
by many employers and governments
New policy directions
• Special ministries, task forces, agencies
• Labour market policies
• Laws and institutions for iIntegration, social cohesion
European Union
• Towards common policies on migration and asylum
• Exporting border control – e.g. Rabat 2006
• GCIM – Global Commission on International Migration
• HLD – Highly Level Dialogue on Mig. and Dev. 2006
• GFMD – Global Forum on Migration and Dev. 2007
Some new
conventional wisdoms
• South-North migration is a problem to be fixed
by dealing with ‘root causes’ (poverty, violence)
• Migration can drive development
– through remittances, technology transfer, diaspora
actions and return migration
• Circular migration is a ‘win-win-win’ situation
– Receiving countries get workers but no new settlers
– Migrants gain economically
– Origin countries gain through development support
• Compulsory integration leads to social cohesion
and eliminates diversity and transnationalism
Migration theory 1950-90s:
dual divides
Explaining mobility
Incorporation in society
Neo-classical theory:
• Individual income motive
• Human capital
• Equilibrium hypothesis
Historical-institutional theory
• Colonialism /Dependency
• World systems
• Labour for capital
• Perpetuating inequality
Exclusionary identities
• Guestworker systems
• Temporary adaptation
Inclusionary assimilation
• Individual citizenship
• Adopting dominant
• Cultural recognition
• Equality and anti-racism
Migration theory 1970s – 2000s
New approaches
Explaining mobility
Incorporation in society
Transitional theories
• Zelinsky: mobility transition
• Martin: migration hump
• Skeldon: ‘development
Migration and development
• Remittances
• Social remittances
• Brain circulation
• Diasporas
Integration /neo-assimilation
• Diversity erodes social
• ‘Parallel lives’ and security
• Integration,social cohesion
• ‘Core values’, citizenship
Diversity / multiculturalism
• Multiple identities
• Cosmopolitan cities
• Transnationalism
Theoretical synthesis: Studying the
migratory process as a whole
Migration as part of the linkages between societies
• New economics of labour migration (NELM)
• Dual/segmented labour market theory
• Migration networks
• Migration as a social process
• Transnational theory
• Structural dependency on migration (of both
origin and receiving countries)
Migration theory and
social theory
• Overcoming split between:
– Development studies in origin countries
– Incorporation studies in receiving countries
• Overcoming the structure-agency dichotomy
– Political economy of global change
– Ethnography and sociology of transnational groups
• Combining quantitative and qualitative research
• Migration both result and cause of social change
• Embedding migration research in study of
globalisation and social transformation
Globalisation as social
• Social transformation: fundamental change in
social structure and relationships
• Result of ‘step changes’ in dominant
economic or political relationships
• Global reconfiguration of economies and
politics transforms all societies and relations
between them
• Central tasks for social science:
– analysing processes of social transformation
– examining how global changes are mediated
by local cultures and histories
Social transformation
drives South-North Migration
• Changes in rural work
and life: more inequality
• Rural-urban migration:
– Unemployment
– Poverty
• Undemocratic states
– Conflict and violence
– Lack of human rights
• Structural adjustment
erodes public services
• Economic restructuring
– Decline of old industries
– Unemployment
– Deskilling
• Neo-liberal model
– Weakens communities
– erodes welfare states
• Fertility decline; ageing
• New demands for labour:
– High-skilled and low-skilled
 Immigrants as symbol of
Globalisation transforms
conditions for migration
• Cheaper transport  repeated/cyclical mobility
• Electronic communication  migrant links with home
• Global media: images of western life-styles
• Cultural capital facilitates mobility
Migrant networks
• Organising migration flows and job-finding
Transnational communities
From once-in-a-lifetime migration to
 mobility as a life strategy
Studying social
transformation: theory
• Focus on global connectivity
– How international economic, political or military
factors change communities and societies
• Study of transnational processes
• Multi-level units of analysis
– Local, national, regional global
– Mediation between the levels as key theme
• Historically and culturally sited investigation
• Relating structure and action
Methodological principles
• Interdisciplinarity
• Quantitative research to understand macro-social
• Historical understanding of sending, transit and
receiving societies
• Comparative studies
• Holistic approach: embeddedness of migration in
social transformation processes
• Studying the agency of migrants and communities
– Participatory research to include the perspectives
of diverse actors
– Qualitative research to understand migration
processes and their social meanings
Organisation of research
• Building transnational research networks
– Overcoming nationalist and colonialist past by
working with colleagues in sending and transit
• Overcoming linguistic / cultural barriers
– Key concepts have culturally specific meanings
• Engaged and collaborative research
– Working with communities
– civil society organisations
– Policy-makers and practitioners
Conventional wisdoms
revisited - 1
South-North migration is a problem to be fixed by
dealing with the ‘root causes’
• Helps support global governance strategies that impose
western values and free markets
• Reducing poverty and conflict will lead to more – not less
- migration
Migration can drive development
• A new version of modernisation theory’s ‘trickle-down’
principle: Let the poor pay for development
• Migration alone does not lead to development
• Migration can be a part of sustainable development
Conventional wisdoms
revisited - 2
Circular migration is a ‘win-win-win’ situation
• Some (temporary) migrants will become settlers
• Migrants do not benefit if they are denied equal rights
• Sending countries only benefit if migration is part of an
integrated development strategy
Compulsory integration leads to social cohesion
• Globalisation leads to greater cultural diversity (with or
without migration)
• Strategies to enforce integration and cohesion are likely
to lead to racism and conflict
• Transnationalism is a consequence of globalisation and
is sure to increase in future
• Recent advances in migration theory offer
opportunities for bridging old divisions and
overcoming the marginalisation of migration
• There is little evidence that decision-makers pay
much heed to such changes. They still are able
to chose the migration research that fits in with
their political needs.
The end
Sooner or later, every wall will fall
Sooner or later, every wall will fall