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Empirical Findings: Transnationalism and Integration in Europe

Transnational scholarship developed in the USA earlier than in Europe. Much theory in this field is therefore based on the experiences of US immigrant groups that navigated in a context that is very different from the European (cf. Martiniello and Lafleur 2008). European research on transnationalism has matured during the past decade; this section takes stock of the recent empirical studies of economic, political, and sociocultural transnationalism. The field incorporates studies with a range of research questions and aims, a diversity of countries of origin and destination, and a variety of methodologies, from ethnography to surveys. Studies focus on a single ethnic group or are comparative in nature, focusing on one or more aspects of transnationalism. Authors agree that it is problematic to propose a causal relation between transnationalism and integration. For instance, following Kivisto (2001) and Vertovec (2009), Bivand Erdal and Oeppen (2013, 873) argue that a positive relationship between the two could be the result of the confidence migrants gain from social interaction, either transnational or not, which then becomes self-perpetuating.

Instead of looking for causality, this chapter presents an organized inventory of findings directed by the question of how integration and transnationalism might influence one another. Where studies have differentiated types and forms of transnationalism, this is taken into account. Despite tremendous variation in the studies reviewed in this chapter, most if not all point out the need to be attentive to diversity in transnationalism and integration: who—in terms of characteristics such as socioeconomic status, educational level, gender, ethnicity, religion, and migration motives—is involved in transnationalism, and who is not (cf. Mügge 2011)?

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