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Cultures of Migration

Cultures of Migration

Jeffrey H. Cohen
Ibrahim Sirkeci
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  • Book Info
    Cultures of Migration
    Book Description:

    Around the globe, people leave their homes to better themselves, to satisfy needs, and to care for their families. They also migrate to escape undesirable conditions, ranging from a lack of economic opportunities to violent conflicts at home or in the community. Most studies of migration have analyzed the topic at either the macro level of national and global economic and political forces, or the micro level of the psychology of individual migrants. Few studies have examined the "culture of migration"-that is, the cultural beliefs and social patterns that influence people to move.

    Cultures of Migration combines anthropological and geographical sensibilities, as well as sociological and economic models, to explore the household-level decision-making process that prompts migration. The authors draw their examples not only from their previous studies of Mexican Oaxacans and Turkish Kurds but also from migrants from Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific, and many parts of Asia. They examine social, economic, and political factors that can induce a household to decide to send members abroad, along with the cultural beliefs and traditions that can limit migration. The authors look at both transnational and internal migrations, and at shorter- and longer-term stays in the receiving location. They also consider the effect that migration has on those who remain behind. The authors' "culture of migration" model adds an important new dimension to our understanding of the cultural beliefs and social patterns associated with migration and will help specialists better respond to increasing human mobility.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73536-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. 1-19)

    Lots of people talk about migration and lots of people talk about migrants. They are intrigued by the process and they want to ask questions about why people move. Many people assume migrants are seeking to escape something that cannot be resolved in their home country. Others figure that migration is a solution to a local economic problem such as the lack of jobs. When a country cannot provide for its citizens, those citizens may choose to migrate to a country where opportunities are present (Goodman and Hiskey 2008). The belief that migration is an important option for people who...

    (pp. 20-36)

    Many researchers focus on migrants and the decisions that drive their mobility and the outcomes of their moves. Of course, the decision to migrate is in the hands of the mover. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to think of the migrant as a lone decision maker, just as it is a mistake to think of the migrant in her or his destination community as a rogue individual. The decision to migrate, while in the hands of the individual mover, is made in reference to and relation with many other actors and includes other people, places, processes, promises, and potential outcomes....

  7. Two THE GROWTH OF MIGRATION: Mobility, Security, Insecurity
    (pp. 37-49)

    There was a time when immigration was assumed to follow a direct and highly regular and regulated path from a place of origin to a place of destination (see Ravenstein 1889). Migration was conceptualized as a normal act, one that followed predictable laws with well-defined outcomes and in which people, as movers, followed preset pathways. In other words, migrants were assumed to move as new jobs and opportunities became available or as their social traditions might determine. For the latter, you might think of the way anthropologists traditionally talked about hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers, because they rely upon foraging for their livelihood,...

  8. Three CONTEMPORARY MIGRATION: Commuters and Internal Movers
    (pp. 50-67)

    Let us take you to several places and briefly introduce the traditional populations you might encounter. Picture a family living in northern China in the Mongol Autonomous Region.¹ Their home is a small hut, and they own very little beyond the few animals they raise, a radio, and some kitchen utensils. Quickly we switch to the highlands of central Guatemala. Chickens scurry around a small hut made of adobe bricks and cane. There is a little field of maize growing and the noise of the community all around. No one has a car, no one has a phone, electrical service...

  9. Four CONTEMPORARY MOVERS: International Migration
    (pp. 68-86)

    A few popular assumptions apply to international migration and make understanding the outcomes of international mobility difficult. First, there is the perception that international movement is something new. Second is the assumption that most international movers are poor and fleeing poverty by exercising mobility. Third is the belief that international migrants take jobs and opportunities away from the citizens of receiving nations and in the process drive down wages. Fourth, there is a perception that once migrants arrive in their destination, they will never leave; and fifth, there is the assumption that international migration is best countered by supporting development...

    (pp. 87-96)

    We noted that mobility includes movers who follow local commutes, migrants who travel to internal destinations, and migrants who cross borders and are bound for international destinations. The numbers of movers involved is staggeringly big. There are literally millions of individuals who are involved in migration in one way or another. Some move on their own volition while others are forced to travel. Some are looking for jobs and relatively higher wages, others—particularly refugees—are looking for a safe place to settle, while some others could be going in search of an adventure, a pilgrimage, an education, or self-actualization....

    (pp. 97-113)

    Migrant remittances are the resources that migrants return to their sending households. Remittances flow to sending households from both internal movers and international sojourners and take many forms. Most discussions of remittance practices focus on money that flows from the migrants in their destination communities to their families living in sending households (OECD 2005). The total amount of remittances that flowed to developing countries was estimated to be $72 billion in 2002, which was much higher than total official aid directed to the developing world (COE 2006:7). Reports like the OECD’s review of global remittance practices noted that two years...

    (pp. 114-120)

    John F. Kennedy’s comments concerning migration capture the hope of a time in our collective history when most people believed immigrants were going to help the United States build a stronger future. There was great potential in their arrival, and we assumed that immigrants embraced their receiving nation, and the promises of the success that would come with their engagement in its growth and expansion. Nevertheless, for every hopeful statement on migration, we find an equally negative declaration, one that argues that immigrants are criminals, that they are focused on gaining wealth, or that they are trying to access education...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 121-128)
    (pp. 129-158)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 159-165)