Week 2 – Theory continued

Although the article refers to Sociology as a discipline, I think it’s important to note that many of the social sciences of today (except Anthropology perhaps) continue to favour analyses based on the nation-state framework; that is how globalization affects a specific country without or trying not to make reference that economies and societies are more intertwined than many of us think.

I would propose that many, if not all of the 7 propositions made by the author affect all social sciences to some degree.

Proposition 1 intends to take us out of our comfort zone and start thinking in relational terms. How does migration affect two or more geographies? Transnationalism these days no longer involves how a sending and receiving countries are linked via migration, but also how countries are re-connected through migrant communities in different places (e.g. Brazilians in the U.S., Japan, and Portugal).

The author points out that in order to research migration; we need to at once take ourselves from narratives, designs, models, and methodologies favouring the nation-state since they are no longer appropriate in the world we live. I would agree with this statement, yet it is easier said than done since in many of our disciplines such as Political Science or Economics, we see the nation-state as the dominant player in how we analyze our daily life.

Proposition 2, as an extension from the overarching proposition 1, proposes an inter-disciplinary approach to migration studies, which can provide deeper answers to questions about migration. And as far as I would agree with this, and it is an aspect of research, which many, myself included take, brings about a number of obstacles (none of which are sufficient to deter this drive) that make it difficult for the researcher and for an education system as a whole perhaps. Our classrooms are more often than not segregated into disciplines from early age, so by the time we arrive at the MA or PhD level, where inter-disciplinarity has become prevalent, it is difficult for many students to let go, or even want to let go of how their entire education has prepared them. In this case, migration studies brings a good nudge forward since it makes a student think and reflect outside the borders of where they live. We can think about it in the way of how mobility within the EU, depending on who you ask (let’s think about Brexit) can be viewed as a positive or a negative…yet, we still regard it more often than not through a national prism.

Proposition 3 in my mind brings about an issue of perspective that I have with Sociology, the idea of a totality.  That Sociology stemmed out of the 19th Century nation-state building process, and its anchors rest within this history, makes it difficult for this discipline to step-out of nation-state. However, in many places today, Sociology and Anthropology are taught together in departments, which allows for the disciplines to learn from each other, especially when it comes to migration studies since the local, the meso,  the national, the international, and the global are scales that work best together not separately. Transnational and Translocal (e.g. city to city mobilities) migration are approaches that can expand how we see migration, not through the prism of the individual as a migrant, but through the eyes that no person, migrates alone, even if their movement is done individually. The social, political, and cultural networks that people move across borders are what proposition 5 (ideas and people as suspicious) brings forth.

Proposition 4, as much as it has to do with research, it is also a political one. In order to carry-out research, the vast majority of us require funding from some source or another. Since the majority of sources are devoted how a country analysis, even if it’s a comparative analysis, it still requires the nation-state to be the relevant unit, makes it difficult, not impossible, to develop, follow, and carry out research taking transnational or global research on migration since it may not be politically or methodologically relevant to an agency who’s mandate might be simply to research net migration.

Proposition 5, from what I can see was in full display yesterday during the elections in France through Marine le Pen’s continued assault on migration as destroying French identity. Whether globalization’s effect are positive and negative are definitely up for debate, but this idea of bringing back the good old days, or by making ‘America great again’ by design create an ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘patriots’ versus ‘globalizers’. This point of view assumes that societies do not change, or at least should exist the way they always have; the problem is how does a society exist without change? It also assumes that the good old days were good for everyone, and that is just not so.

Castles right posits how the migration of capital and commodities are always welcome, yet foreign people and ideas are viewed in some corners with suspicion or derision.

Even though this article was published over a decade ago, it resonates even more so now in the way technology has taken over much of our lives, and how it has disrupted the labour systems of many places. The migrant as bogeyman (throughout history) as taking jobs away has always been around. I think however, that automation (and we’re still in its inception) have more to do with employment and unemployment than migration. Take platforms such as uber, lyft, airbnb, etc.; these companies have ‘disrupted’ many industries throughout the globe, which have led in some ways to unemployment. Another example, are some restaurants having ipads (California, Hong Kong, etc.) available instead of servers at restaurants, where people pick-up their food instead of being served. Automation allows one person to do a job that at times may have even required 6-7 people. It’s too early however, to see how it will affect labour markets since with new technologies, new jobs arise. This however, does not help a generation that may not have the skills to thrive in this new economy, making these grievances ripe for people such as le Pen et. al. to push their anti-immigration agenda.

Proposition 6 presents how mobility (not only physical) have created different social classes especially in many labour markets. Let’s look at the competition for talent that many countries have to lure skilled workers such as the blue card (EU), the H1B visa (US), Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas (UK), Highly skilled worker visas (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). These visas have made it easier for skilled workers to be find employment throughout the globe, whereas the opposite is true for unskilled labour, which has seen even more barriers.

Proposition 7 in short makes the argument that since migration is a multi-layered phenomenon, it requires a multi-pronged approach that allows disciplines to dialogue and contribute to the development of theories that can be utilized in the field and at the policy level.

How did you guys find the article?

The following is text taken directly from this week’s recommened reading. It was published in 2002, and it just struck me. Does this world have some familiarity with what is going today?  What do you guys think?



In 1729, the Irish clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift put forward a novel solution to the economic problems of a society being ravaged by British colo­ nialism: the poor should turn to ‘baby-farming,’ and earn a living by selling their children as fresh meat to the British landlords (Swift, 1955). Writing in the early 1980s, I suggested that baby-farming had indeed become a widespread practice not just in Ireland but also in many other countries on the periphery of areas of rapid economic growth. The difference was that the human exports sent to the booming industrial economies of Western Europe were consumed not as meat on the tables of the bourgeoisie, but as labor power in their facto­ ries (Castles et al , 1984:1).

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we can imagine a new type of ‘transnational baby farming’ as the core of the global migration scenario of the next fifty years. Less-developed countries excluded from the positive aspects of economic globalization would help compensate for the demographic deficits of the rich countries. The scenario would look something like this.

  • Fertility rates will continue to plummet in rich industrial countries, leading to aging populations and shrinking labor Increasing prosperity and improved education will mean that few local people will be available for low-skilled jobs.
  • Certain areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America will suffer exdusion from the mainstream global economy, resulting in deepening poverty, conflict and Fertility and population growth will remain high – despite AIDS and other epidemics. Migration in search of work will appear as the only way out for millions of people.
  • lntermediate-level countries will experience uneven forms of industrial­ ization and growth, but large countries like Brazil, Mexico, India and China will still have huge reserves of labor-market As educa­ tion systems improve, many of these young workers will have high skill levels, but will be unable to find work at home.
  • The rich countries will collaborate with each other and put pressure on

the rest of the world to tighten restrictions on migration, especially of the low-skilled. Rigorous surveillance measures using new technologies will raise the human costs of migration, leading to thousands of deaths in the oceans, mountains and deserts which migrants try to traverse. But enough people will get rhrough to encourage others to try.

  • Rich countries and NICs will use unskilled migrants as the labor force for

3-D jobs, and, increasingly, for aged care. Some such workers will be brought in through contract labor systems which deny them basic rights, while many others will be illegal migrants or asylum seekers.

  • The education systems of the intermediate countries will provide skilled workers of all kinds for the rich countries.
  • In addition, since the populations of rich countries will have virtually ceased to reproduce, immigrants from intermediate countries – carefully selected on the basis of economic, cultural and cultural criteria which serve as surrogates for race – will be allowed to settle, form families and replenish the


Like all distopias, this one is unlikely to come to pass in such a radical form – although it is based on real current trends. The main force undermin­ ing it, as in the past, will be the human agency of millions of migrants, as well as other members of both sending and receiving communities. Transnational communities resulting from migration will, through thousands of micro-strate­ gies, seek security and humane conditions for their members. By doing this, they will probably become a major factor undermining the plans of the mighty. The furure will probably be as messy as the past, and all predictions are likely to be wrong, but one thing is dear: there is no return to the neat idea of dosed­ off nation-states with homogenous national communities.


Interesting article on the creation if identity if you guys have some time.


24 thoughts on “Week 2 – Theory continued”

  1. Castles criticizes the mid-twentieth century USA for not allowing immigrants to maintain their former heritage, customs and language, or else they will not be considered a part of the American society. The research he is basing his claim upon was done in Chicago in the early 20’s, which raises some questions, as Chicago received a flow of Italian immigrants in the 20th century, and still to this day one can find the Italian heritage blooming in Chicago. From traditional food that is considered unique to Chicago-Italians, to the language that is still being spoken by the elderly. Do we not see a “Little-Italy” and a “Chinatown” in almost every major city, especially in the USA? Places that celebrate their heritage, it does not seem to me as if they were or are trying to hide it in any way. So to proclaim that they must change their ways and must not maintain a part of their original heritage seems like a lacking assumption. I could understand it from a personal perspective, in a job interview for example: one tries to mask his/her heritage to avoid prejudice stereotypical to their culture.

    He did make a very valid point in his fifth proposition about transnational class structures under false assumptions that a nation-state has its sovereignty which is equal to any other and that a citizen of one nation has the same rights and status as any other citizen in any other nation, which I found to be on point. According to the text, this view is becoming more popular in recent years and I can understand why: the socio-economical gap is seemingly increasing within Nation-states, but even more so between the “developed” and the “developing” countries.

  2. I agree with you, Tal, that there´s a certain discrepancy in having “Chinatowns” etc while wanting to create one homogenous nation. These districts were mainly created by legislatives who made immigration settlement only possible in certain areas (like the predominately Turkish areas in German cities) and later on these areas became the go-to-places for people who had just arrived because they knew they would rather find support in their own communities than get help from the state.
    Of course transnationalism and globalization have changed our view on migration and polarized it. There´s wide spread understanding of how an homogenous society can´t be achieved and that celebrating different heritages is a good thing but on the other side is racism on the rise. Having “nationalist” or “patriots” like Marine LePen proclaim that immigrants are destoying the nation´s identity even when immigrants are the core of a nation´s society be it through former colonialism or labor migration makes Castles point of “the tyranny of the nation-state” more understaningly.
    Nation-states have their rules which surely can hinder research, integration and whatsoever but they also give us a framework on which an analysis can be build. I think it´s unhelpful to get rid of long established frameworks for the sake of modernisation. Theories should be adapted to the new circumstances be it through new policies or research cooperation but to make a change history and what we´ve learned of it must be present. As long as there is a North-South-divide, we can´t get rid of our frameworks. Castles already gives an alternative approach: Having different disciplines cooperate.

  3. With regards to the excerpt of the recommended reading I have to say that I do agree with some of the points which is probably a reason why it struck me so much, too. So I decided to begin with some thoughts on that first and share some of my personal observations.

    I can’t say anything for sure about countries in Europe but when I lived in Saudi Arabia, I noticed that many of low skilled or not so well paid jobs like construction work, housekeeping, driving taxis or managing the register at the supermarket were mostly done by people from countries like India, the Philippines or Pakistan. A number high skilled jobs are also performed by internationals although from different countries. If I am not mistaken, a similar situation applies to other regions in the Middle East likewise.

    Given that all Saudi nationals are eligible for government scholarships to pursue their higher education anywhere in the world, and most of the Saudis do make use of that, one would think that nowadays this country would have no need for international workforce. My educated guess would be that since so many Saudis have university degrees, they just don’t feel like doing jobs that seem below their (intellectual) abilities Nevertheless, in the last couple of years the government had to enforce a quota for Saudi employees in international businesses in order to make sure that nationals are able to get jobs in their own country. It appears as if the international community is significantly outnumbering the national one in a not so beneficial way.

    Even though this doesn’t relate to Latin America and I don’t have any exact statistical data for my observations, I would say that yes, some of the assumptions from 2002 can indeed be observed even today.

  4. Now looking at the main text for this week by Castles, I agree with the claim in proposition 1 that theories used in sociological research need some re-thinking. I don’t think one can base research on nation-states alone any longer. While migration is surely still happening, I feel like settlements, although still existent, are not as permanent as they used to be.

    Taking the refugee crisis as an example, people make stops on the way to their final destination. So a refugee from Syria might arrive in Italy, move on to Greece and then stay in Turkey for some time before moving on to some other country in Europe where they may or may not settle for good. In some cases refugees are sent back to countries like Greece or Turkey where they may try anew to continue their journey to safety.

    So to me between the publication year of the article and today, migration has become more than just moving from point A to point B where only the regulations of the destination state apply. I think that today, there are more stations in between migrating from “State A” to “State B”. I feel like if theories don’t consider these in-between states then sooner or later a nation state based theory will cause too many flaws for reliable research results to occur.

  5. This week’s text by Castles argues that contemporary international migration is a social phenomenon that crosses national borders, and that therefore requires theories and methodologies which take an international perspective and transcend the national focus.

    In this context, Castles presents seven propositions on how to change and adapt sociological studies, among others in their gaze, framework, and methods, as a way of adequately responding to the challenge that twenty-first-century migration poses to sociology.

    Whilst I find all of Castle’s propositions to be reasonable to some extent, I would like to hone in on his fourth proposition, in which he criticizes the ongoing persistence of nationalist models as inadequate for capturing the transnational dynamics of migration and social relations.

    I found the part of his argumentation to be really interesting, in which he explains the strength of the national gaze in migration studies by pointing out that upholding the control of belonging to the national community is a key element of sovereignty, e.g. through border restriction or regulation of access to citizenship. This is still of great relevance today, with examples of such attempts to control who can belong to the national community ranging from the US to many European countries.

    I think that Castle’s observation of policy-makers in immigration countries regarding social studies as a way of understanding and controlling the “dangerous immigrant ‘other’”
    (p. 358) is also still valid in the present.

    Given the persistence of such nationalist perspectives and approaches even today, this makes me doubt the possibility of easily and promptly reforming the field of sociological studies and research.

  6. One of the important issues the text deals with is the long existing and as a matter of fact still existing nation-state focus of the sociological research in the field of migration.
    Being confronted with this, I was reminded of the discussion in the Federal Republic of Germany during the so-called Refugee-Crisis and that to my opinion most of the arguments that were given by policy-makers but also by journalists or other participators stuck very much in the of the text criticized point of view which is definitely nation-state focused. A recent example would be the debate about the need of a “Leitkultur”(dominant culture) which was started by the German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziére. Therefore, the idea of a dominant culture and the absolute necessity of a full assimilation of the non-dominant cultures under the dominant culture is a concept which not only still exist in our society, but rather is one of the most prevalent views on the migration process.
    In the end, I think the described need to overcome this nation-state focus in the sociology is obviously combined with the overcoming of the nation-state itself as the predominant form of state. What do you think?

  7. As already mentioned, Castles tries to move away from national approaches and argues for a global sociology of migration because today international migration involves not only one or two nation-states but often times several. He addresses topical questions for sociologists who work on migration.

    I think that Castles makes a valid point in claiming that today, in the era of globalization, migration not only means to move from one country to another, but that it includes many more aspects (e.g. onward migration, etc.), and therefore only-nation-state theories are outdated. We can see this very clearly in Europe today, where migrants have several stops on their migration. However, I am not sure if it is possible to switch from the nation-state level to the global level overnight as often times we think in nation-state patterns without even noticing. Thus, it would be even more difficult to overcome the nation-state itself as the predominant form of state (regarding André’s question). I also think that Castles does not want to eliminate the nation-state itself because he also mentions the importance of it.

    The part about the development of the discipline of sociology was also quite interesting; that in the beginning it favored assimilation theories and saw the stranger as a potential threat, but this has changed considerably.

    When Castles mentioned his example of the difficulties of cross-national migration research (that migration was differently perceived in several countries), I was wondering how to create (or if it is even possible to have) global theories of migration as long as important concepts in migration studies hold differing definitions across countries.

  8. For me, I believe that this is a trend and tendency that does not only apply to migration studies, but also to many other issues that tend to transnational, such as human rights and climate change. However, the unique feature about migration as a transnational issue is that compared to the other transnational issues where there is usually a dominant stance that is being pushed for by a group of nations, the approach towards migration, whether on the transnational, regional, national, or local level, tends to vary significantly and experience changes more quickly. This appears to be the result of the greater importance of human agency as a factor in migration, due to the nature of the issue itself as being driven by human mobility that inherently lies on that action/decision of an individual to move from one country to another (even if that is being driven by other broader reasons such as transnational networks and economic opportunities). Thus, I generally agreed with most of the propositions and points raised by the author, regarding the need for greater transnational approaches to the study of migration and the reduced focus on nation-states as the centre of the issue. Recognising that this paper was written in 2002, my observation is that this has been acknowledged by many scholars on migration and significant efforts have been made to focus more on the communities that are affected by migration and less on the policies of nations (although that still remains important in the study).

    Addressing the point raised above under Proposition 2 regarding students’ tendency to stick to what their education has taught them, I feel that, to be able to go beyond viewing and approaching migration from the national perspective, it boils down to the approach and questions that are being asked about the phenomenon itself. For instance, thinking of how mobility within the EU can be viewed positively or negatively is already structuring the approach towards looking at the issue from the regional and national perspective. Even though the EU itself is a regional organisation, it is still made up of states, and its features and operations largely depend on those of its member states. As a result, there is no way to reduce the focus on the nation when the issue is approached from such an angle. However, that also raises a question for me. Considering the broad topic of migration and the acknowledgement by the author and other scholars that it is difficult to come up with an all-encompassing theory on migration, it is inevitable that the study on migration will have to be limited, whether by the time period, the geographical location, the social groups or communities. That also means that the nation will continue to be an important actor that is being brought into the study of migration, since geographical location and social groups or communities still tend to be defined by state boundaries. In addition, since migration studies that look at individuals tend to focus on migrant groups and their impact on the sending, transit and receiving societies, it should be recognised that the state and its migration policies will continue to feature in the study of migration. Hence, taking into consideration what was raised by the author, while policy-driven research may not be an ideal approach to the study of migration, one should also recognise that the state and its migration policies will always have an impact on migration and should not be brushed aside, but ought to be considered together with the other equally important, if not more important, actors and aspects of migration. This is something that I agree with the author on, that research and analyses on migration should look at both aspects together and not be skewed towards either extreme.

    Throughout the paper, the author pointed out that current migration studies are still restricted by a focus on the country concerned with limited efforts for international and cross-border interactions and research cooperations. While he makes a convincing argument for greater cooperation and openness in migration studies research (p.357), he does not clearly state how the national research practices and approaches in the modes of organisation, theoretical and methodological approaches, ideological frameworks adopted could be brought together into a cross-border research cooperation studying migration as a transnational phenomenon. Even with his example of the comparative project on the impacts of migration on society in Australia, Germany and France in the late 1990s, despite recognising that each country held different models in their perception of migration and had different understanding of common concepts and terms, he does not explain how one could bring all these different approaches together and study migration as a transnational phenomenon as a whole when there is no common foundation that applies across the countries. This led me to question if there was even a way to integrate these varying national research practices and approaches towards the transnational and cross-border study of migration, and if researchers today have been analysing these varying national research practices and approaches themselves in terms of how they were shaped by the historical, social and cultural background in the countries and the social, political and economic changes that are occurring in those countries as a result of migration up till today.

    For Proposition 5, the author points out that migration has become important to policy makers due to the formulation of the image of “us” against “them” in many societies that are significantly impacted by migration and its effect on social stability. Noting that this continues to remain an aspect of migration, I wonder if there is any way that studies on migration could change this inherent perception of migrants as being a negative influence to society that the a portion of the general public tends to form. This is especially so since this perception was partially the result of the initial studies on migration that approached the issue from such lens, which perhaps may provide the opportunity to turn back the situation or provide another perspective that overrules this present one?

  9. From my side, I found all the prepositions really interesting, but i also feel like each of preposition could be debatable.
    I would like to mentioned that text was written in 2007, it 10 years ago, pretty long period of time, but all the prepositions are atill accurate.
    From my life experience i want to say, that as i come from Russia, its still a big problem – migration of “brain”, my father is sceintist working with bio-chemestry, and nano technology, Russia government was always interested in his studies and always supported every research he would like to do, but only on words, Russian government never invested money in science, so he went to work to France.
    We have the same situation as Katja told before, so my father migrated to france because his “brain” work is valid there. As well ass all low paid jobs are taken by people who migrated because of financial situation.
    I was in the same position when i finished my Bachelor in Russia, i couldnt find job in my country by my degree, that only makes Preposition 2 more interesting for me, because its mostly based on self experince.

    As well i find Preposition 3 really interesting – as an idea of totality – transnational and translocal migration, i think, i agree with authour on this preposition that it is important to look on the mightation not through the one person – individual migration – but to look on the group exprience.

  10. I found the propositions put forward by Castles very insightful. And I mostly agree with what has been discussed so far. Analysing the world only within a framework based on nation states is misleading since this pattern is not adequately capturing transnational movements and “non-direct” forms of migration (e.g. refugees moving between various countries before – or even without – settling). Furthermore, it is definitely important to keep in mind that nation states are in a way artificially constructed. Some states might be more historically grown than others but borders are never a natural entity. Thus, black-boxing the state can surely distract the analysis of migration. Not only is that because migration has become a rather international phenomenon but also because this frame neglects intra-state migration (which would require a more regional perspective) and it might be hampering as well when one tries to capture certain migration movements. For example, a migration flow from state A to state B can be caused by an event in state C which neighbours on state A. In this case, an analysis only focusing on national borders might miss out on grasping the actual reason for the migration flow.
    Nevertheless, I believe that one should not completely abandon theories based on the nation state, either. Yes, nation states are in a way constructed. But even if they were not the most powerful agents in the national arena, the mere fact that people (increasingly?) think in national terms would still render them relevant for sociological, political… analysis. To my mind, one should definitely try to think out of the box when analysing migration. But since many people do “other” strangers and do think within national frames it is also important to keep this perspective in mind so as to understand how migration is influenced by these views.

  11. Proposition 5 struck me the most when reading the text. If the importance of analysing accelerated social transformation processes as central themes to migration sociology wasn’t clear when Castles first wrote this article, it is beyond clear now due to current development of global migration. His definition of differentiated migration and mobility as a new stratifying factor caused by economic globalisation has been harshly proven right through recent humanitarian crisis regarding migration – the massive influx of unaccompanied migrant Central American children in the US and the European migrant crisis of the past couple of years. His warning of hierarchisation of the right to mobility as a new form of transnational racism feels premonitory.

    My previous “encounters” with migration sociology have been charged with a transnationalist approach, so it was fairly easy for me to agree with his core proposals. I enjoyed however that he did not dismissed a nation-state framework entirely, but admitted that due to the current political influence of the nation-state, ignoring the national space would be as counterproductive as ignoring the local or regional spaces. I found his appeal to inter-spatial analysis extremely important when thinking of previous case studies I’ve read on, such as Mixtec social movements in the US or Central-American sex workers at the Mexico US-border. It would be short-sighted to study cases like that and ignore regional aspects (the cross-border region through which Mixtec migrant workers move in the first case and the so-called “Northern Triangle” of Central America in the second example), national aspects (border law enforcement in the US and Mexico in both examples) and local aspects (organised Mixtec communities in Southern US or border towns highly populated with Central American migrants).

  12. Personally, it was quite hard for me to relate and critically analyse what the author has discussed in the text because of my lack of knowledge about sociology and sociological research methods. That being said, I largely agree with the author’s general idea that it is important to study about migration without being confined to the structures of a nation state. This is important not just to conduct more accurate and empirically useful research but also to better understand migration and globalization as society progresses.

    However, I find one of the points that Castles made in proposition 5 quite problematic. Proposition 5 was about how sociologists should analyze global transformations on “multiple spatial levels” to conceptualize migration beyond the nation state framework. He talks about how the autonomy of national governments is being reduced, as it is “no longer possible to ignore transnational factors in decision making and planning” (with regards to migration). This is perhaps true for understanding modern day migration patterns. However, I do not know if I fully agree on this, especially in terms of managing migration. With regards to Brexit, it is clear that British national autonomy is undermined as the EU committee is making it very difficult for UK to act on its nation’s will and disembark from the EU, especially with regards to managing EU migrant rights in the UK. However, we also have Merkel, who reversed her open door migration policy after the terror attacks in Berlin last December (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/20/angela-merkel-open-door-migrants-berlin-christmas-market-attack-refugee). This is in spite of the fact that the UNHCR is calling out to the EU to stick together to come up with more cohesive migration management policies (https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2016/12/58453b614/unhcr-calls-stronger-eu-action-refugees.html). The author seems to assume that nations all want to manage migration positively, by helping migrants integrate into society etc. This reduces national autonomy, as regional cooperation is necessary for such policies to be successful. However, it is increasingly evident that nations today are choosing to manage migration negatively as well, by shutting off migrant flows and putting their own citizens first. Such strategies do not call for regional cooperation. Instead, it seems to reinforce the autonomy that individual nations have.

  13. The article is very focused on the author’s own discipline, namely sociology. Although the text delivers important contents about migration research, which involves also different areas of social sciences, the article’s intention is clearly to revolutionize the way this topic is handled by sociology. A contradiction that I found specifically on this matter is Proposition 2, which I consider in principle a very clever way to address the topic, but it seems difficult for sociology to share the field of study with other disciplines while trying to define its own frameworks, especially considering the broad range encompassed by sociology as a social science. Castles tries to delimit the theory while using at the same time adjectives as “global” and “overarching” with regard to sociology’s tasks.
    In respect of Proposition 4 and 6, Sociology has indeed developed within the context of Western nation-states and the Industrialisation era. I agree with the author on the point, that it’s necessary to get rid of this methodological nationalism in order to get a more impartial image of a universal phenomenon as it is migration. One thing is -having- to respond to policy-driven research and another thing is staying confined to the analytical framework constituted by a nation-state.
    In general I would say that Castles’s propositions are a very interesting way of academic activism, because he calls for the development of a critical and engaged sociology of migration, and likewise for a cooperation network between different social disciplines, thus transcending the potential limitations on scientific research imposed by a nation-state.
    My personal question after reading the text: how does sociology proceed when it comes to stateless nations as, for example, Kurdistan or Palestine (or many others)?

  14. Castles article helped me to understand the difficulties of a field which has its roots in the nineteenth century, was framed by western industrial societies and often depends on the needs of governments and bureaucracies.

    As Castle puts it in his proposition 6, policy-makers in immigration countries are interested in social studies on migration not just because they want to understand the „other“. Rather because the access to citizenship and belonging to the national community e.g. must be controlled. I agree with him that “Ministers and bureaucrats still often see migration as something that can be turned on and off like a tap through laws and policies.” Of course this is too short-sighted.

    If one wants to read about European migration-control I recommend you a project by the independent newspaper “TAZ”. A group of journalists did research on, how since 2000 several treaties by the EU with African countries and billions of Euros, labelled as development aid are seeking to control refugee and migration flows towards Europe. Unfortunately not in combating the causes of migration but in enhancing inner African boarder technology.

    (the English version doesn’t include a full translation but a list of treaties made by EU and African countries)

    The need of an interdisciplinary as well as an equal international network of researchers in social sciences seems useful, not just to overcome the nationalist and colonialist legacy, but also to achieve a holistic view on the dynamic social patterns involved in migration processes. I can imagine and i hope that the digital interconnection will play an important role in that relation.

  15. Like some other students I also thought the article was very focused on Castle’s discipline, sociology, rather than with a focus on migration. I do agree that due to changes in migration as a result of globalization and an increase in mobility new methods need to be applied. Especially a concentration on the nation state doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, especially when talking about nationless people or the disruption of states. Also relating to people living in or migrating from (fleeing from) parts of the world without a functioning government or even being ruled by other actors like eg. warlords, focusing on the nation state as a category of analysis seems to be well short-sighted.

  16. As an anthropology student, first of all, I have to say that I do not call myself an expert, or even well versed, in Sociology, although the two disciplines have many similarities and are even called „sister disciplines.“
    I liked that Castles sees the need for „a critical and socio-politically engaged sociology of migration“(p. 352). In times of ongoing debates about the topic, a cientifically correct, but also politically engaged view o this topic is indispensable, if one wishes to not only analyze the status quo, but change it.
    I have a simple but important question for understanding the text better: What does Castle mean with “research Enterprise”? I hope, as most of us don’t speak English as their Native language, it is permitted and welcome to post such supposedly banal questions?
    Regarding Proposition 4, I would like to point out that, although I support Castles call for an internationalisation of social science, the national framework has an importance in social science, among other because it is relevant in the political discourse. Of course there is a dialectical relationship there, but nonetheless national identities are extremely present and important for many people.
    To demonstrate this, I found a very good ethnographic example yesterday while watching the (anthropological) documentary „Les Sauteurs“. The migrants at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, who try to jump the fence in order to get to europe, organize themselves in their national communities. Despite speaking often the same language, belonging to the same class and gender, their national identity seems to define their social structure. This is why the directors decided to focus on the community of men from Mali. Here we see that, although if we wanted to have a more international approach to migration topics, nationality is not an imagined frame, but a present and important one.

    Having said that, we need to ask ourselves, as (future) scientists, what effect our studies can have on the political discourse and the shaping of our societies. The idea of a process of „acculturation“ is getting more dominant in Germany nowadays, with Bavarias „Integrationsgesetz“ or de Mazieres incredibly racist „ten theses on Leitkultur“ (translatable to guiding or hegemonial culture, possibly). Taking into account Castles call for a politically engaged sociology, a social scientists duty would be to repudiate these false ideas of culture and prevent them from having an effect on the population. Developing Castles concept of „transnational racism“ could help this cause.
    Finally, I would like to complement Proposition 6: When Castles talks about the disadvantages of policy-driven research, a fundamental question to ask is: which policy? Does this research need to be funded, and therefore used, by Ministers and bureaucrats? Wouldn’t it be better, and wouldn’t we solve the problem of producing simplistic research results for the policy makers, if we made our studies with, about and for social actors in this field? An example would be scientists like Stuart Hall and Angela Davis, who, with their legitimacy as scientists helped the cause of political movements.

    Here a link to the trailer of the movie mentioned above:
    And here a link to the Interview of BILD with de Maiziere (trigger warning):

  17. I found this week’s reflexive text about sociology and migration very informative.
    What caught my attention first was the part about the change on migration that came with globalization. Castles says that migration does not longer effect just two nation-states, it became a much more complex phenomena which transcends nation-state borders. You can see that, for instance, in the case of refugees, fleeing from war in syria and crossing plenty of states on their way. In each of them you can recognize impacts of that migration flow that effect one another.

    Castles also pointed out that there is still a barrier to cross-national research caused by problems with fundation which comes usually from national institutions. As I read this I had to think about the great potential that could be provided by cross-national research and gets, due to that, restrained.

  18. I appreciate the fact that Castles` text is qurite ciritcal, not only about the discipline sociology for example, but also about topics as ongoing power structures in the present. He mentions for example the important fact of inequality in the context of migration and that commodities, capital and mabey other cutural futures are rather welcomed than people, ideas, beliefs etc. Essential in this context is again the question: who migrates and for what reason.

    Castles mentions also the point that in present days still exists the idea that migrants should assimilate and `do i tour ways`. Of course- mabey in present day migrants are not suposed to assimilate in a process of complete acculturation to be part of the hostsociety, but there still exists the idea that people should change their ways of understandnig life like `we do` or the host society does, in my opinion it is just more hidden today.

    Further Castles states that economic globalisation means and that political issues lead to social transformation, for what people have to migrate- wheter because they belonging to the excluded group and migrate because of the loss of jobs or expulsion, or they belong to the included group that is able to move because of their free will.
    I like the fact that he shows the involved power structures in the global order and that there are similar hierarchic power structures that continue within nationalstates, legal status, citizenship etc., altough we are not living in times of colonies anymore.

  19. “A Day without a Mexican”: Transnational interdependences and methodological reflections

    Throughout the different propositions Castles puts forth in the paper at hand (referred to here as Castles 2007), there are a few underlying principles to be made out from his argumentation. First of all, he tries to link rather abstract, methodological reflections to concrete contexts of scientific production processes, thus in his own text trying to fulfill the ambition of a “holistic” scientific approach (Castles 2007: 367). Secondly, he argues for a general diversification of the field in terms of methods and disciplines as well as theoretical approaches – and scholars. His call for “participatory” sociological methods (ibid.) actually echoes with current scientific realities, as many scholars working in the field of migration studies are, in fact, themselves migrants. Thus, political and social realities are (as Castles himself argues) reflected in scientific production processes, either in a presumably negative way (reproducing political, problematic structure) or in a positive way in the sense that the voices speaking up in this field are seemingly growing more and more diverse (although this notion is in itself very debatable).

    I would like to link Swift’s idea of ‘baby farming’ as cited above by Felipe to the concept of transationalism itself, which fundamentally implies a sense of interdependence between sending and receiving countries, created by the social, cultural, political and economic ties between transnational communities (the Turkish referendum which has already been referred to in the discussions on Week 1 is a very good example for such mechanisms). What this distopian vision ultimately points to are the complex networks created by migratory flows and resulting interconnectedness of different regions and states on different political and socio-economic levels: as countries of the Global North ‘produce’ less and less ‘own offspring’, this gap is filled up by migrants from the Global South, which in turn creates a series of consequences and potential conflicts which in themselves are very complex.

    When looking at some movements of the last decade and, more intensively, the last few years, it seems to me that this notion has become more and more present on a political level as well. Here, I want to sketch two sides of this political awareness rather shortly and maybe learn your opinions on them.
    One side of this political awareness is reflected in the movie “A Day Without a Mexican” which appeared in 2004 and has provided inspiration for concrete political movements such as the Gran Paro Estadounidense in 2006, an idea which also has been repeated in 2017 in the US (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/social-media-campaign-proposes-one-day-immigrant-strike-n721621, last accessed: 05/06/17, 11:51:34). The basic idea of these actions is to create an image of the United States without immigrants for one day, thus highlighting the immense economic importance of this social group (however heterogeneous it actually is). This shows that migrants are growing more and more conscious of their economic, political and social leverage and are adopting different strategies to make use of this leverage in order to influence the political discourse. This, in turn, highlights the interdependence that concepts as transnationalism have stressed repeatedly, which gives us the opportunity to read this movement as some sort of ‘reality check’ to these concepts (not exclusively, of course).

    The other line of agumentation inspired by this idea, paradoxically, can be found in theories of the so-called ‘Neue Rechte’ in Germany or the Alt Right in the US. Abhorrent ideas such as the “Große Austausch” (eng. the Great Exchange) promoted by politicians such as Björn Höcke in Germany, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, or Marine le Pen and the writer Michel Houllebeqc in France, suggest that the ‘purity’ of European societies is endangered by the influx of ‘sexually over-productive’ migrants, ultimately resulting in a total extinction of (biologically) ‘true’ Germans/French/Dutch etc. Parts of the political supporters of Donald Trump in the US also adhere to this idea. The political consequence to be drawn from this scenario would be national protectionism and radical cuts to inflows of migration, as well as radical discrimination of migrants already living in these respective countries.

    It is interesting to try and see his idea reflected in modern political conflicts – although it is of course possible (and necessary) to also analyse these conflicts against other backdrops. What Castles’ text points to is the fact that all of Western societies are already living the consequences (be they positive or negative) of migration and transnational interdependence, and it seems absurd that this reality is not (or only partially) reflected in social research and sciences. What I have tried to show are different political movements drawing their political ideas and ideals from these realities, while of course giving them a very different spin each. In this sense, the idea of “baby farming” has already become a reality: it is, in one way or another, shaping political discourses.

  20. I understand and share the authors thoughts regarding his critique of the nation state in the scientific approaches of sociology. Neverteheless, nation states are still the most relevant factor of order in the globalized world in a certain way. As the author points out, it´s easier for capital and commodities to “migrate” than it is for humans, especially for those who are socially and political marginalized.
    The conclusion I draw from this essay is the following: if we tend to investigate the migration movements of highly educated people and the capital and commodities they bring along and the inter- and intranational legal migration movements in a globalized world, we can put borders and nations aside, in terms of them being an obstacle of this migration. If we investigate migration instead, which is illegal and/or irregular according to government policies of nation states, nations and borders tend to be one of the most relevant factors. The politial and legal power in a globalized world is still an asset of mostly capitalist state nations or nation confederations, the capital and the advantages for the national and multinational markets will always be more predominant, which leads (in my opinion) to the conclusion that under such terms nation states are still a most relevant factor in the migration studies. (Although I still need to enhance my knowledge about migration studies and sociology, of course).
    Nevertheless, I fully approve of the author´s opinion about the need of complex fields of studies to be treated in an interdisciplinary way. The fact that this course is made up of students from different disciplines and the mulitfacceted conclucions we derive from the texts is sufficient proof in my opinion.

  21. Hallo everyone,
    As I would prefer not to repeat your arguments and points I´ll be brief with my opinion about Castles´ article, and would rather talk about the recommended reading.
    -To Castles:
    The understanding of transnational communities may not be as applicable to Latin America as it might be in other regions (as an established concept!). Transnational organizations in Latin America are diverse and plenty, and a main characteristic of them is their desire for keeping sovereignty as something undeniable and unquestionable (some exception may be the ALBA approach). So, my questions would be:
    Is Castles’ proposition of coming out of the national-state-focused-framework realistic for Latin America?
    Is there such a thing as “transnational neutral criteria” from which transnational research can derive further studies? Who is going to establish them?

    -To the recommended reading:
    1. I would like to mention another factor that might increase human mobility: Global warming. Global warming research has warned about the increasing changes affecting land, seas and climate in general, which will lead to mass migration.
    2. As a counterpart for the idea of neo “baby- farming” leading to “export” of cheap labor is the fact, that many multinational organizations are going to poor countries, creating low-paid jobs. This happens with the backing of the respective governments, who seem to be competing in a “race for the bottom”. The result is a steady stream of miserable out-sourced jobs in a distinctly one-sided economic arrangement, since hardly any efforts are being made to facilitate a proper collaboration… what a service!

    3. To the statement “(…) there is no return to the neat idea of dosed¬ off nation-states with homogenous national communities”. I´d like to add, that is more than just an idea: it was a fantasy of the elite. There are no homogenous national communities, there are always radical differences between classes in any given country. Factors such as a common language (or a variation from it), or a preference for types of food are banalities.

  22. The recommended text “Migration and Community Formation under Conditions of Globilization” (Castles, 2002) brings up the term of globalization, whose explanation or at least addressing I was missing in the previous texts.

    It shows in a very descriptive manner the untamable inner powers of migrations, which in my opinion leads in parts to the not only scientific attraction of this phenomenon. Especially interesting was the mentioning of the various types of migrations. Because of my personal plans of leaving Germany in the future this made me think about how to call the movement to another country out of pure spirit of adventure and pursuit of happiness. I call it movement because I am not sure whether it is rather a (lifelong) journey or migration. Somehow the finite nature of the described retirement and posthumous migration (p.1154) struck me because migration has always been a rather reciprocal and reversible process for me.

    When I reached the alternative conclusion I became aware of why I always felt so unsettled when I previously read the word “human capital” in texts, because it perfectly captures the picture of baby-farming. There should not be something like a capitalisation of bodies and minds and I think this is also one of the reasons why the recent governmental measures “to get the most out of the refugees” worry and upset me. Furthermore, I think the point that Andrés made is of the utmost importance: How can we make our academic knowledge applicable and in which ways do we want to contribute to the society? At least, reading and reflecting by writing comments is a good start.

  23. Although this text was sometimes very focused on sociology, I think this text is a good second introductory article to the process of migration and to what it involves in terms of methodology, knowledge and critical perspective. Getting out of our national perspective is hard, also because as underlined it can go against our education, but it seems very necessary when studying migrations and other social transformations (as mentioned in the comments, such as Human Rights). I only had two classes of sociology but they were indeed very state-centred. It seems a bit obvious that an interdisciplinary perspective was more adapted to the understanding of migrations, because we can’t understand such a process without connecting economical, psychological, cultural, sociological, anthropological and historical perspectives.
    As to the proposition 5, the “transnational racism” that developed in the last decades and your example about Marine Le Pen, I think you’re right giving the example of the opposition she makes between « good old days » and now. She presents immigrants as job stealers who want to impose their culture and annihilate the French one. As to what was mentioned in the comments about “homogenous culture”, she is an example of someone who would push them to “integrate” which in her mind means embrace the idea she has of French culture: drink wine, wearing skirts, being Christian or atheist… However, the rise of her party is mostly (especially in the North and North-East of France) among people with limited income, often unemployed, who need a scapegoat for the loss of their job. Plant relocations to Eastern European countries, identified as the consequence of globalisation, are extremely common in this region. Ironically, the plant relocation that was at the heart of the debates during the campaign was the plant relocation of an American firm, Whirlpool, so It was already the result of globalisation. Le Pen chose to scapegoat the processes of globalisation, automation and migrations and to make people believe migration was a new and intense phenomenon (although a large part of her voters are descended form Polish and Italian migrants who came to find work hundred years ago).
    In my opinion, it can’t be denied that skilled and educated people are advantaged in the new competition of visas. It wasn’t always the case. For instance, if we think about what kind of workers were accepted in Ellis Island or in Germany of France when factories and mines were looking for unskilled, less syndicated workers. Furthermore, I found interesting that it was underlined in the text that in a lot of Western countries, or as described in a comment in Saudi Arabia, a lot of recently arrived and low-skilled immigrants accept menial jobs that some people born in the country are not ready to take and therefore, that they’re not systematically in competition with them.

  24. In his article “Twenty-First Century Migration as a Challenge to Sociology”, Stephen Castles argues for a global sociology of migration, based on global networks of scholars. Indeed, the analysis of migration requires theories and methodologies capable of transcending the national gaze, since the phenomenon of migration is often border-crossing. Nevertheless, national approaches have often been dominant in the sociology of migration. Through seven remarks, Castles problematizes the main issues in the sociology of migration and tries to find answers to tackle them. I will not list all the propositions one after the other, but will rather address the main points made in the article.
    First, Castles stresses on the fact that the need of a cross-border study of migration cannot be solved thanks to national comparative studies. In fact, these studies do not necessarily overcome the influence of national models. One cannot compare the studies of two very distinct countries which have been using different indices to measure migration. Moreover, migration should be seen as an inter-disciplinary science, needing knowledge in fields such as psychology or economics for example. Yet, sociology has a key role to play in migration research. In fact, it has the scientific task to address the society as a whole and is therefore essential for the understanding of migration. Till the seventies, most migration sociological works saw their central task in analyzing the experiences of migrants. Later, sociology attempted to construct more generally applicable frameworks, by studying for example the process of acculturation of migrants.
    Furthermore, this article emphasizes on the fact that the processes of social transformation should be seen as a central theme for contemporary sociological analysis. Especially globalization transforms tremendously societies, and enhances phenomena such as the “privatization of migration” in different forms (smugglers, travel agents etc.) due to the trend to liberalization and deregulation in the global economy. Moreover, globalization creates new mechanisms: the image of a prosperous first world spreads more quickly and lures potential migrants. Plus, globalization creates a bigger social capital, which is essential for migrants. For all these reasons, the national frame cannot be sufficient to tackle the issue of migration research.

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