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In libreria

Research Handbook on the Sociology of Migration

edited by Giuseppe Sciortino, Martina Cvajner, Peter J. Kivisto

24 maggio 2024
Versione stampabile

Adeptly navigating one of the most pressing issues on the current global agenda, this topical Research Handbook provides a comprehensive and research-based exploration of the sociology of migration. As well as highlighting the field’s achievements and current challenges, it explores key concepts used in current research, methods employed, and the spheres and contexts in which migrants participate.
Presenting an open and pluralistic approach to international migration, this Research Handbook offers a wealth of conceptual analysis, featuring insightful contributions from over 40 leading scholars. Split into three thematic sections, it expertly examines a wide range of theoretical terms, research methods and techniques, and provides an in-depth analysis of the significant work that has been carried out to date in relation to migration. It ultimately sheds light on important discussions surrounding the origins of the sociology of migration, considering not only past events, but also future directions of research for this ever-evolving field of study.
Offering a unique and forward-thinking perspective, this authoritative Handbook will serve as a fundamental reference for students, scholars, and practitioners in the fields of sociology and social policy, development studies, and political science, as well as in the wider social sciences.

Giuseppe Sciortino is professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Trento
Marina Cvajner is professor at the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences of the University of Trento
Peter J. Kivisto is professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Augustana College, US

From Introduction (pp.1-7)

Do we really need a research handbook on the sociology of migration? It’s a fair question. After all, during the past several decades, sociologists around the globe have devoted considerable scholarly time and effort to exploring contemporary migration across international borders. The International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on the Sociology of Migration (RC-31), the American Sociological Association’s section on International Migration, and the European Sociological Association’s Research Network on the Sociology of Migration (RN-35) are large and vibrant components of their respective organizations. Such is true of other nation-specific organizations. In addition to a presence in established sociological professional organizations, one can point to the International Migration Network (IMISCOE) as one preeminent freestanding organization. Founded in the Netherlands, its website describes the organization as the ‘largest interdisciplinary network of scholars in the field of migration’, currently connecting 63 research institutions around the world.1 The number of PhD programs has grown remarkably, and the number of migration-related scientific papers has skyrocketed. Specialized journals have multiplied in number.2 Moreover, the sociology of migration has not developed in isolation, but rather can best be described as part of a larger multidisciplinary research community supported by a professionalized research infrastructure. We could cite additional evidence, but the point is obvious: the sociology of migration does not suffer from a paucity of attention and the lack of a systematic research handbook has not deterred researchers from doing their work. 

However, we are convinced that the robustness of the field is precisely the reason for such a handbook. The sheer number of new concepts proposed by migration scholars, combined with a wide range of research methodologies deployed in ever-expanding sites of empirical investigation, using traditional and novel data sources, and proposed research questions in an especially dynamic sociological subfield, makes it difficult for those engaged in this collective enterprise to see the forest for the trees. We concur with Thelma Freides’ (1973, p. 1) succinct rationale for handbooks in general: ‘In the effort of the scholarly enterprise to synthesize a body of knowledge … it is sometimes useful to pause and take stock of the accomplishments of the past and the foreseeable tasks of the future’. We conceive this Handbook in this light. It is intended to be a research tool for those already immersed in the field and an introduction to it for novices. For both audiences, it is designed to offer an ecumenical view revealing what a big tent sociology of migration has to offer, one in which underlying the diversity, we contend, is a shared disciplinary core.
In taking stock of the sociology of migration past and present, the differences between the past and today are numerous. Rather than a century ago, when North America could be considered, at least symbolically, ‘the paramount region’ for migration dynamics, migration today is truly global. The receiving countries today vary from wealthy to considerably less so, with the political systems of receiving nations ranging from full democracies to hybrid regimes. Whereas the Chicago School was primarily interested in immigrant incorporation, building on the work of economists, sociologists more recently have contributed to understanding the causes and characteristics of migration flows. New conceptual categories of movers across borders have been explicated. The call has been made for moving beyond the state by repudiating ‘methodological nationalism’ (Wimmer & Glick Schiller, 2002). Countering this, others have argued for the importance of a state-centered framing of research, one in which the receiving nation engages in a campaign of political resocialization, whereby in the process that transforms outsiders into insiders ‘they also get turned into nationals’ (Waldinger, Soehl, & Luthra, 2022). The role of international agencies promoting human rights since the Second World War has garnered attention. Economic changes brought about by the shift from industrial capitalism to financialized capitalism is one of the factors contributing to the heightened complexity of the situation. No longer simply a working-class phenomenon, migration involves people at all levels of social hierarchies, save the desperately poor who do not have the minimal resources to depart. Moreover, this subfield is located in a discipline that is exponentially larger than it was a century ago—sociology now operates as a global discipline. 
Sociologists have never been a unified tribe. The internal debates have been a persistent feature of the sociological landscape—and the debates have often been heated. Sociologists sometimes challenge those they disagree with, while at other times, they simply ignore them in order to engage with the discipline in a way they deem to be the correct path. Debates over conceptual definitions, theoretical frameworks, and methodological choices are hard-baked into the discipline, with all attempts to overcome them failing for so long that there is no desire to repeat such efforts.  And the reason for not seeking to overcome such differences is not that it is futile, but rather that it is unnecessary. It is unnecessary because despite the disagreements, sociology does not exist in a state of chaos—it is not ‘a blooming, buzzing confusion’. Sociologists have managed over time to produce high quality empirical research, while likewise advancing our theoretical understandings of the processes and mechanisms that shape social relations in the highly differentiated and complex societies of the modern world. Just as this is true of sociology at large, so it is true of the sociology of migration (FitzGerald, 2022). Indeed, in recent decades, this subfield has proven itself to be especially dynamic and the results constitute a body of work that amounts to an embarrassment of riches.

Courtesy by Edward Elgar Publishing.