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The M&D Nexus

The overall approach to migration and development seems to have fluctuated, according to King and Collyer in Chap. 10. Different understandings abound of the nature, forms, and processes of development, migration, and integration, in both applied and in theoretical terms. History has been marked by a series of “pendulum movements” from optimistic to pessimistic scenarios, depending more on the political assumptions of the time than the concrete empirical evidence at hand. Since the late 1990, a new favourable context has been born, pushing an optimistic upswing of the pendulum. The accompanying view is that migration could and should be turned in a triple-win scenario for all: the countries of origin, the countries of destination, and the migrants themselves. A number of elements has contributed to this perspective: the global acceleration of migration and shift to more fluid forms of mobility (see Van Mol & De Valk in this volume), the rise of immigrants' organizations in both places of origin and destination (see Mügge, and Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis in this volume), and the birth of an institutional framework at the global level within which countries of origin have been drawn and developed clout (e.g., the Global Commission on International Migration, the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Integration, and the Global Forum on Migration and Development).

But how and where does integration come into this M&D approach? In principle, integration could come into the picture if we adopted the concept of transnational mobility (instead of migration) and shifted the focus to migrants' integration in the place of origin, the place of destination, and possibly also the transnational community (instead of the classic framing of integration as a process involving migrants and the receiving society). From this perspective, the settlement of immigrants could be studied empirically in all of its dimensions (economic, social, cultural, and political) to assess as an open question whether it results in immigrants' integration or the opposite. However, such a new approach to integration does not exist (yet).

From the M&D perspective, two concrete questions on integration then remain. The first is how does integration impact on migrants' capacity to stimulate development in the countries of origin. Though much more research is still needed, some studies show that (successful) integration in the destination country is not necessarily a zero-sum game but rather a condition for successful integration in the country of origin. Chapters 7 and 8 both reach this conclusion in very similar wordings. The second question is what meaning does integration in the destination country have for immigrants' reintegration in the country of origin. Research presented in this volume suggests that there are many patterns of return and reintegration, resulting from the fact—among others—that integration is just one of the multiple factors that determine reintegration chances and challenges. The literature seems to suggest that a return of failure (which can be interpreted as failed integration in the destination country) might be a predictor of a failed reintegration, particularly when development criteria are part of the reintegration concept. The so-called “return of innovation” seems to correlate with previous successful integration in the country of destination.

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