Immigrants, policies and migration systems: An ethnographic comparative approach
MIGSYS studies the links between the migration plans of individual subjects and the migration policies of sending and receiving states. Our contention is that migrants and their households are independent social agents that make choices and plans, execute these plans, and/or adapt them in accordance with changing circumstances and to their own needs and expectations. In formulating and executing their plans, migrants interact with state policies and other external factors operating in the sending, receiving or in both countries.
Migrants receive and process information about receiving state policies and other issues that affect different aspects of their migration project (i.e. legal migration policy, housing and welfare benefits, labour law and working conditions, ethnic discrimination issues, but also informal labour markets, border control policies, asylum seeking opportunities, human trafficking networks, possibilities of regularising after illegal entry, possibilities of moving on to a second destination country).
Such information may be more or less accurate and complete, and is usually mediated through formal and informal networks in the country of origin and in the receiving country, the media, non-state agents (e.g. specialised travel agencies, marriage brokers, NGOs, religious organisations) and criminal networks (human traffickers).
MIGSYS is based on a comparative ethnographic approach. The research consortium will study the migration projects and experiences of several groups of migrants (selected based on ethnicity, country of origin and/or transnational migration networks) in different migration systems. In particular, we will consider four systems:
* a European East-West migration system (EU countries and Eastern Europe, including Russia and some CIS states);
* a Mediterranean system (EU countries and North African states);
* a European-Asian system (EU countries and the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and China);
* and a South-North American system including the US, Canada, and countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
MIGSYS focus on the main migration flows within each system, the socio-demographic profiles of the migrating populations, the socio-economic and political profiles of the destination countries, and the existing studies analysing the relationships between immigrants and immigrant-relevant policies (including immigration control, integration and related policies, e.g. citizenship acquisition or trade agreements between sending and receiving countries).
Drawing from some of the preliminary findings of the MIGSYS pilot study, the European and North American experiences on the dynamic interaction between migration policies and migrants’ plans were further compared in an ESF exploratory workshop on migration. Through a set of case studies, the concept of ‘nodal points’ was studied in greater depth in terms of how migration policies are implemented by state bureaucracies on a daily basis; what information migrants have about the policies and the implementation practices; and whether the actions and plans of migrants are affected by these policies or in response to other factors.
Duration: February 2006-August 2007
Funded by the International Metropolis Network and the Population, Migration and Environment Foundation (under their special call for project proposals regarding the governance of international migration).
Project co-ordinator: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) Athens, Greece; Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou.