Norway Conference Room, FF Building 10th Floor
18 November 2008
Time: 12.00- 1.30 p.m.
Norway Conference Room, 304 East 45th Street, FF Building 10th Floor
The aim of this paper is to examine some of the difficulties of theory formation in international migration studies, and to suggest a way forward. The starting point is an examination of the dominant perception of ‘migration as a problem’. This is followed by a discussion of some key obstacles to theoretical advancement in migration studies. I argue that a general theory of migration is neither possible nor desirable, but that we can make significant progress by re-embedding migration research in a more general understanding of contemporary society, and linking it to broader theories of social change across a range of social scientific disciplines. A conceptual framework for migration studies should take social transformation as its central category, in order to facilitate understanding of the complexity, interconnectness, variability, contexuality and multi-level mediations of migratory processes in the context of rapid global change. The argument is illustrated through the example of the changing dynamics of labour forces in highly-developed countries. The paper does not put forward a conceptual framework but does suggest some of its possible characteristics.
About the Speaker
Stephen Castles is the Director and Senior Researcher at International Migration Institute and Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies at the University of Oxford. From 2002-2006, he was Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. Castles has carried out research on migration and multicultural societies in Europe, Australia and Asia. He has been a consultant to the British and Australian governments, ILO, UNHCR, IOM and the European Union. His recent work focuses on the global political economy of forced migration and its inks to processes of social transformation in both sending and receiving countries. He is also studying social and political factors in migration policy formation.
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