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Migration systems, pioneers and the role of agency

Author

Listed:
  • Oliver Bakewell

    () (International Migration Institute, University of Oxford)

  • Hein de Haas

    () (International Migration Institute, University of Oxford)

  • Agnieszka Kubal

    () (University of Oxford)

Abstract

The notion of a migration system is often invoked but it is rarely clearly defined or conceptualized. De Haas has recently provided a powerful critique of the current literature highlighting some important flaws that recur through it. In particular, migration systems tend to be identified as fully formed entities, and there is no theorization as to how they come into being. Moreover, there is no explanation of how they change in time, in particular how they come to decline. The inner workings – the mechanics – which drive such changes are not examined. Such critiques of migration systems relate to wider critiques of the concept of systems in the broader social science literature, where they are often presented as black boxes in which human agency is largely excluded. The challenge is how to theorize the mechanics by which the actions of people at one time contribute to the emergence of systemic linkages at a later time. This paper focuses on the genesis of migration systems and the notion of pioneer migration. It draws attention both to the role of particular individuals, the pioneers, and also the more general activity of pioneering which is undertaken by many migrants. By disentangling different aspects of agency, it is possible to develop hypotheses about how the emergence of migrations systems is related to the nature of the agency exercised by different pioneers or pioneering activities in different contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Bakewell & Hein de Haas & Agnieszka Kubal, 2011. "Migration systems, pioneers and the role of agency," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2011023, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:nor:wpaper:2011023
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    File URL: http://www.norface-migration.org/publ_uploads/NDP_23_11.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bauer, Thomas K. & Epstein, Gil S. & Gang, Ira N., 2002. "Herd Effects or Migration Networks? The Location Choice of Mexican Immigrants in the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 551, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5126 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gerring, John, 2008. "The Mechanismic Worldview: Thinking Inside the Box," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(01), pages 161-179, January.
    4. Jean-Paul Azam & Flore Gubert, 2006. "Migrants' Remittances and the Household in Africa: A Review of Evidence," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(2), pages 426-462, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:taf:jdevst:v:52:y:2016:i:1:p:36-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ilan Riss, 2016. "Leadership in migration systems: the case of israel," Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems - scientific journal, Croatian Interdisciplinary Society Provider Homepage: http://indecs.eu, vol. 14(2), pages 194-211.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration systems; agency; emergence; pioneer migrants; migrant networks; social capital;

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