Inaugural Lecture: Understanding international (im)mobility in times of gated globalism: toward an institutional migration theory

Arjen Leerkes, UNU-MERIT

While international migration, especially from low and middle-income countries to high income countries, is heavily regulated, we still lack an adequate theory of the state. Existing migration theories do not mention the state at all, or mostly see it as an actor that selectively increases the costs of ‘unwanted’ migration, which may or may not deter forms of human movement depending on migrants’ other incentives and opportunity structures. That economic view overlooks what sociologists call the normative and cultural-cognitive dimensions of institutions: decisions shaping migration patterns – decisions by migrants and organisational targets and implementers – are also informed by the, partly unconscious, assessments regarding the appropriateness of immigration control. Its effectiveness, however partial, is also due to relevant actors accepting its central principles, such as the notion that national citizens should have privileged access to the ‘domestic’ labour market, that refugees should, as a rule, ‘stay in the region’, and that nation-states have a right to decide whom to admit. The normative and cultural-cognitive dimensions of institutions are subject to cultural change: I will present suggestive evidence from the World Value Study that increases in perceived global citizenship under the influence of globalisation are currently weakening the acceptance and taken-for-grantedness of immigration control in the eyes of (younger) inhabitants of low and middle-income countries. Thus, in order to understand international migration in the 21th Century, we should not only pay attention to international income inequality, demographic unbalances, international social networks and climate change: we should also consider the growing sense of entitlement in low and middle-income countries, and how existing state immigration institutions will accommodate it. 

 



Venue: Aula, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht

Date: 23 November 2018

Time: 16:30 - 17:30