License

Recent Comments

Blogroll

Search

Archive for Migration

The Visual Du Jour – Foreign-Borns: Then and Now

February 10, 2013 by and tagged , ,

Check out this great infographic from The Census Bureau on migration:

Foreign Born infographic image

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

There is a lot that is interesting here. First of all, the percentage of US population that is foreign-born is lower now than it was in the 19th century so, even though the foreign-born population is larger in numbers, because the US population has also grown larger, that percentage has varied in a different direction than the raw numbers.

What is not surprising is the shift in countries / regions of origin. The 19th century was the time of European migration while the more recent trends have shifted to Central America and Asia. That migrating population is also younger and distributed more widely across the US rather than concentrated on the coastal areas.

[As a side note: thanks to the Census for providing full embedding code for this infographic.]

Posted in Dataviz, Migration, Population | 4 Comments »

The Visual Du Jour – Moving

June 20, 2012 by and tagged

Here is another video demonstrating a great interactive visualization of global migration flows. I found it on Good, but the original is here and the actual visualization is here. As always, it’s better to watch it in full screen.

The Visual Du Jour – Moving from SocProf on Vimeo.

Youtube version here.

Posted in Migration, Sociology | No Comments »

Suicide as Social Action – Putting Durkheim and Merton to Work

April 8, 2012 by and tagged , , , ,

Let me bring my handy graph again (and a quick shout out to Simple Diagrams, a software I could not blog and teach without). It was one of the very first insights I learned in my very first sociology course, reading my first sociology book, Durkheim’s Suicide: suicide is not an individual act but a social action, that is, an act embedded in social institutions and cultural values and norms, producing stable suicide rates. Hence, in society, the whole is greater than the sum of its part. Society is a reality sui generis. And social facts influence how we act and respond to social contexts.

So,

“An elderly man killed himself in Athens’s main square yesterday in protest at the debt crisis.

The incident was raised in parliament and an anti-austerity group called for a peaceful protest, accusing politicians of driving people to despair with harsh budget cuts.

The 77-year-old shot himself in the head in Syntagma Square during the morning rush hour. The square, opposite parliament, is a focal point for protests. Police said a handwritten note was found on the retired pharmacist’s body in which he said he was taking his own life due to the debt crisis.”

And then, this as well.

Note the public nature of these suicides and their mode of killing as public spectacles, especially the shooting in Syntagma Square. And, especially the first one was clearly understood as a public action. I am tempted to see those as anomic suicides, that is, as suicides prompted by the removal of regulations and social protections, triggering downward social mobility where individuals are left to fend for themselves, without any road map to figure out how to do it, especially, for the elderly.

The caption for the photo reads:

“Mourners applaud as the coffin of Dimitris Christoulas is carried during a funeral procession. His suicide note said that he had preferred to die rather than be forced to scavenge for food: AP”

And these are not isolated cases:

“The suicide of Dmitiris Christoulas, which triggered a new bout of rioting in the Greek capital, threw a spotlight on the fact which European authorities have gone to considerable lengths to obscure as they struggle to come up with ways to get European economies back on an even keel.

As the British researcher David Stuckler has spelt out in a series of shocking reports in The Lancet, suicide rates have risen right across Europe since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, with strict correlation between the intensity of the crisis and the rise in the statistics.

In 2006 he predicted that the new economic crisis would result in “increased suicides among people younger than 66 years”. Two years on the prediction was vindicated: as job losses increased rapidly, to about 37 per cent above the 2007 level in both parts of Europe, “the steady downward turn in suicide rates… reversed at once.

“The 2008 increase was less than 1 per cent in the new member states, but in the old ones it increased by about 7 per cent. In both, suicides increased further in 2009,” he reported.

The examples of debt-crisis suicides in Greece and Britain have been replicated across the European Union, with Italy, where the state has imposed effective tax rises after many years of empty threats from Silvio Berlusconi, especially badly hit. The suicide rate for economic reasons has increased by 24.6 per cent between 2008 and 2010, it is reported, while attempted suicides have gone up 20 per cent in the same period.

In recent cases, a 78-year-old pensioner threw herself from her third-floor balcony in Gela, in the south of Sicily, blaming a pension cut from €800 to €600, while last Thursday a young construction worker from Morocco set himself on fire outside Verona’s town hall.

The international media’s slowness to notice and draw attention to the suicide epidemic reflects state power to present the crisis and its cure in their preferred fashion, but it has long been obvious to many that you cannot simply downsize a state whose rampant growth has been the obsession of half a century of government policy without consequences.

Mr Stuckler finds that suicide and attempted suicide rise in close conformity with economic hardship, with Greece and Ireland suffering the worst increase over the past three years, and with the loss of dignity and the sense of being the prey of newly empowered state agencies exacerbating the pain in Europe’s south.”

If we were to use Robert Merton’s strain theory to look at these, we would then find forms of retreatism in these suicides as people cope differently to the strain caused by anomic conditions where cultural goals have not changed but the legitimate means have become unattainable due to austerity policies being implemented in these countries.

In other cases, some try innovation:

“In the grimy dockland suburb of Alcantara, Lisbon, a heavy, grey frosted-glass door in an equally forbidding office block currently offers an entrance to what has become the new El Dorado for a growing sector of the Portuguese workforce: Angola.

For centuries, the former colony was as ruthlessly exploited by its European masters as any other in Africa. But today, with the Portuguese economy floundering, the boot is firmly on the other foot. For most of the past decade, Angola’s diamond-mining and oil-rich economy has grown by 10 per cent a year. With 7,000 Portuguese businesses already established there and clear linguistic, human and political links, too, when Angola started looking for a huge range of skilled workers from abroad to help rebuild the country, the old “mother nation” stood head and shoulders above the rest.

But for the recession-struck Portuguese to make it out there, there is only one legal path: head to Alcantara and that grim-looking door, behind which the Angolan consulate is currently processing Portuguese immigration papers at an average of more than 20,000 a year.

“It’s for one reason: in Portugal, the recession is here to stay, and that’s true for everybody,” says Ricardo Bordalo, a Portuguese journalist from the Lusa news agency. Based in Angola between 2008 and 2011, he watched the number of his compatriots there increase from 20,000 to 130,000. “In Angola, after the war, the country was completely destroyed, and they needed people there. And many thousands of Portuguese had already lived there before independence. There’s always been a special relationship between Portugal and Angola. Sometimes we hate each other, sometimes we love each other, and now it’s our turn to go there. But it’s not easy to get a visa: they make us suffer a little bit.”

(…)

Migration: Europe loses skilled workers as Indians return

Spain: The economic crisis is forcing 1,200 young Spaniards to emigrate to Argentina each month, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claimed last year. Around 30,000 Spaniards moved to Argentina between June 2009 and November 2010. Some 6,400 went to Chile and 6,800 headed for Uruguay.

Italy: The Italian economy has been at a virtual standstill since 2000 and around 600,000, often highly educated young Italians, have gone abroad in the past decade. Most have emigrated to North and South America. Many blamed Silvio Berlusconi for their country’s rising unemployment rates.

India: India’s rapidly growing economy has triggered a reverse migration of its diaspora previously settled in the UK and US, said a recent report. About 300,000 Indians employed overseas are expected to return to the country by 2015.”

That is indeed interesting. When developing countries were subjected to structural adjustment programs, the downward mobility that followed triggered emigration to wealthier countries. And now, we see the reverse: austerity (the Western equivalent of structural adjustment programs) triggers the same mechanism, but this time, emigration out of mainly Western countries to semi-peripheral or peripheral countries. It will be interesting to see how the recipient countries perceive these new immigrants and whether there is a significant impact to a potential brain drain.

Posted in Anomie, Collective Behavior, Migration, Social Theory, Sociology | 1 Comment »

Fear of A Brown / Asian Planet

November 17, 2011 by and tagged , ,

I am somewhat convinced that parts of the fear of globalization in certain circles have to do with the fear of the loss of white people privilege and dominance worldwide.

For instance:

“For the first time, non-white people make up the majority of Brazil’s population, according to preliminary results of the 2010 census.

Out of around 191m Brazilians, 91 million identified themselves as white, 82m as mixed race and 15m as black.

Whites fell from 53.7% of the population in 2000 to 47.7% last year.

The once-a-decade census showed rising social indicators across Brazil as a result of economic growth, but also highlighted enduring inequalities.

The census was conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

“It is the first time a demographic census has found the white population to be below 50%” it said in its report.

The number of people identifying as black rose from 6.2% to 7.6%, while the number saying they were of mixed race rose from 38.5% to 43.1%.

Among minority groups, 2m Brazilians identified themselves as Asian, and 817,000 as indigenous.”

And this:

It is not surprising that we are talking about BRIC countries here, the country block that is on the rise. As the article notes:

“MORE Chinese people live outside mainland China than French people live in France, with some to be found in almost every country. Some 22m ethnic Indians are scattered across every continent. Diasporas have been a part of the world for millennia. But today their size (if migrants were a nation, they would be the world’s fifth-largest) and the ease of staying in touch with those at home are making them matter much more. No other social networks offer the same global reach—and shrewd firms are taking notice. Our map highlights the world’s top 20 destinations for Chinese and Indian migrants.”

On a global scale, things look like this:

And, of course, for full comic effect, there is this:

This perfectly illustrates white anxieties at being (economically) dominated by non-white people (I am old enough to remember the same type of fears when our economies got flooded with Japanese consumer goods in the 1980s).

Globalization was fun when it meant exploiting non-white people out of sight and out of mind, busting unions here, and getting cheap goods for our troubles. But the with the crisis, the now self-imposed structural adjustment policies, the challenges posed by BRIC countries, heck, the EU asking China for help, it’s no fun anymore.

Posted in Globalization, Migration, Population | 1 Comment »

La Fuite En Avant (A Post in English and French)

October 13, 2011 by and tagged ,

So it’s all a big mess and people still have to survive and therefore have to find solutions to their present and individual, but socially-produced predicaments. Depending on their characteristics and circumstances, they may tap into repertoires of survival (something akin to repertoires of contention but directed at finding survival solutions). For instance, packing it up and moving on might be one such strategy when one’s national economy has collapsed and does not show any signs of recovering (mostly because one’s country is now subject to recessionary policies).

Or maybe it’s time to dust off Robert Merton’s Strain theory where socially-produced anomie and strain find resolutions in different ways, for instance, innovation in the form of exodus.

Example 1 – Greece:

“Depuis le début de la crise économique, en 2008, environ 50 000 Grecs ont migré, confirme Savas Robolis, également expert en migration. Le professeur estime à environ 80 % la part des jeunes dans ces départs. Une dynamique qui se serait accélérée ces derniers mois. “Les ingénieurs, les informaticiens, les architectes partent surtout en Grande-Bretagne, où il existe des opportunités avec la préparation des Jeux olympiques”, note le chercheur. Si les flux sont difficiles à mesurer, il estime à environ 10 000 personnes les départs vers le Royaume-Uni. “Les autres partent en Allemagne, environ 8 000 personnes, dans les pays européens et enfin en Australie, avec environ 4 500 départs”.

Un attrait pour l’étranger confirmé par les statistiques du site Europass qui doit faciliter la mobilité des Européens : sur la même période entre 2008 et 2011, le nombre de Grecs ayant utilisé ce service a quasiment doublé (pdf 2008). Plus de 60 % des personnes ayant publié leur CV sur le site ont moins de 30 ans (pdf 2011).

Contrairement aux années 1960 où des milliers de Grecs quittaient leurs pays vers l’Europe du Nord pour occuper des emplois peu qualifiés, il s’agit cette fois d’une poignée de jeunes gens hautement diplômés. L’Australie vient ainsi de lancer, en Grèce, le programme intitulé “Les personnes qualifiées dont l’Australie a besoin”. Le secrétariat de l’immigration organise ainsi des journées d’information le mois prochain pour les citoyens intéressés par l’émigration, rapporte le quotidien grec I Kathimerini. Le département de l’immigration de Canberra a déjà posté en ligne les secteurs dans lesquels la demande est forte, notamment l’ingénierie et la santé. “C’est plus compliqué pour les diplômés en sciences humaines”, commente Savas Robolis, qui rapporte ces scènes récentes : des étudiants “pessimistes” et “nerveux” s’enquérant de contacts pour un travail, quelque part en Europe.

“Il s’agit d’un véritable ‘brain drain’”, commente le chercheur, qui anticipe des conséquences très négatives sur l’économie : “d’après nos estimations, à partir de 2013, on notera une légère reprise de la croissance. C’est à ce moment là qu’on aura besoin de personnes qualifiées. Mais elles seront déjà parties.”"

Roughly, for those of you still not reading French, 50,000 Greeks have left since the beginning of the economic crisis. But contrary to the 1960s where low-skilled Greeks would migrate in search of better-paying but still low-skilled jobs, the current emigration is a brain drain where educated and skilled young people are leaving. If/when the economy recovers, the Greek society will need them but they will simply not be there. And, this also means that the Greek government will have subsidized the education of these workers but that another country will benefit from that investment.

Those that remain though join the ranks of The Precariat.

Example 2 – Italy:

“History is repeating itself. In the past 10 years, some 580,000 people have left southern Italy, driven out by the financial crisis and rising poverty.

The population of Naples has fallen by 108,000, Palermo has lost 29,000 residents and Bari 15,000. In 2010 alone, 134,000 terroni (a derogatory term used by Northern League supporters, which originally meant “farmer”) moved to northern Italy, with 13,000 others going abroad.

These alarming figures were published last month by Svimez, an agency that has been monitoring the region’s economy since 1946. “If nothing is done, there will be a demographic tsunami,” the report concludes.

The 15-34 age group accounts for the largest number of emigrants. If the trend continues, only 5 million people will be left in this age group by 2050, compared with 7 million at present. Over-75s would represent 18% of the total population, up from 8% currently.

With 0.7% growth forecast for Italy as a whole this year, the southern economy will grow by just 0.1%. Only farming has a few jobs to offer. Industry is on the verge of completely disappearing. For the south to catch up with the rest of the country, some €60bn ($80bn) would have to be invested, according to Svimez.”

But then, guess who is leaving as well? The Cloud-minders! The British wealthy have apparently grown afraid of the riff-raff who rebelled a few months ago and so, they have decided to move to… (wait for it) FRANCE.. high-taxing, king-killing, constantly-striking France! No, seriously:

“Selon une étude publiée lundi 10 octobre par la banque Lloyds TSB, les riches Britanniques sont plus nombreux à envisager de quitter le Royaume-Uni à la suite des émeutes du mois d’août. Plus étonnant, la France serait dans ce cas leur destination préférée pour leur nouvelle vie.

Ils sont désormais 17 % à souhaiter quitter le pays dans les deux prochaines années, contre 14 % il y a six mois, d’après une étude de Lloyds TSB International Wealth effectuée auprès de 1 057 personnes faisant partie des 5 % des Britanniques les plus aisés.”

The new sociopaths have a harder time living with the rest of us.

Posted in Migration, Precarization | No Comments »

The Precariat as Denizens 2.0

September 11, 2011 by and tagged , , , , ,

This is another installment in a series of posts (hereherehere and here) I intend to write as I work my way through Guy Standing‘s The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. In this section, the main topic is about another major component of the precariat: migrants. Migrants are both a cause of the growth of the precariat and its main victims as well:

“Having dipped in the mid-twentieth century, when economies were more closed, the mobility of people around the world has soared with globalisation. One billion people cross national borders every year, and the number is rising. According to the International Organisation for Migration, there were 214 million international migrants in the world in 2010, there per cent of the global population. That is probably an underestimate, as undocumented migrants are obviously hard to count. In addition, perhaps 740 million are ‘internal’ migrants, including the 200 million rural migrants to China’s industrial cities who share many of the characteristics of international migrants (House 2009).” (90)

Standing distinguishes between different categories of migrants tied to global transformations and the growth of the precariat:

(1) the growing share of undocumented migrants that constitute the shadow reserve army of labor:

“Undocumented workers provide cheap labour and can be fired and deported if necessary or if the prove recalcitrant. They do not appear on the payrolls of firms and households, and fade into the nooks and crannies of society when recession hits. Productivity appears to rise wonderfully in a boom, as more are recuited without appearing in the statistics, and unemployment mysteriously drops less than the drop in output and demand in recessions.” (91)

(2) Circulants moving to take temporary jobs and who usually send back remittance to their families and often move back and forth.

(3) Women: the feminization of migration is a known topic. Women occupy a greater share of international and internal migrants. Documented migrants may become nannies and maids or fill up the ranks of nursing home personnel in the US. But this category also includes victims of sex trafficking, more or less forced labor and modern slavery.

(4) Students: the mobility of the student population has increased significantly over time, but since 9/11 the share of such students coming to the US has gone down.

(5) Migrants within transnational corporations, oftentimes, executives living between global cities.

(6) Refugees whose number are increasing dramatically: 15 million refugees, 27 million internally displaced peoples. Many of them are stuck in squalor whether in tent cities, camps of various kinds or anywhere they can be stuck and forgotten or assisted, sometimes for decades, depending on whether they got there through a stealth conflict or a chosen conflict (my addition):

“Somalia is now suffering its worst drought in 60 years. A quarter of the population has fled famine and conflict, heading west into Kenya. More than 1,300 people a day stream into the complex of refugee camps at Dadaab, Kenya, which is now housing more than 430,000 people in camps designed for 90,000. Many Somalis arrive near death after journeys of weeks with little food. Large numbers of them are children, often without parents.

At Dadaab they receive food, medical care, basic shelter — the emergency relief they need. But they will probably spend years in that desolate grid of white tents, eating gruel that gets thinner toward the end of the month. The camp lacks the money to provide even subsistence rations. In exchange, the refugees give up their rights to move freely and to work.

The history of refugee camps tells us that they are likely to suffer cholera and other diseases and that rape and domestic violence are widespread. Refugees in Dadaab face lives of enforced idleness and dependency; children born there may grow up there. This is what we have come to expect for refugees: a place one step removed from hell.

Contrast Dadaab with the situation of the roughly 1.6 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Instead of living in camps, they live in Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Amman. They get help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with an A.T.M. card that allows them to withdraw money every month. Some can work legally, but others work in the informal economy, as do locals.

They buy their own food and rent their own apartments. They use the local schools and health clinics. In areas where Iraqi refugees are concentrated enough to strain those services, the refugee agency spends money to refurbish and supply them, helping both the refugees and their neighbors.

Most Iraqi refugees are educated and middle class. They fled to relatively prosperous cities, and they get an unusually large amount of aid because of donations from the United States. They are in a very different position than the destitute Somali farmers.”

(7) Environmental refugees, which is pretty self-explanatory, but more of them can be expected in the near future.

And Standing also mentions another category: the deterritorialized migrants: those who look like migrants and get treated as such  with their national borders (think the immigration bill in Arizona where every brown person is immediately suspected of being undocumented migrant).

For him, these varieties of migrants warrant the recycling of the concept of denizen:

“In the Middles Ages, in England and other European countries, a denizen was an alien who was discretionarily granted by the monarch or ruler some – but not all – rights that were automatically bestowed to citizens. Thus, in return for payment, an alien would be granted ‘letters patent’, enabling him to buy land or practice a trade.” (93)

By definition, all migrants are denizens to a smaller or greater extent. At the worst-off end of the spectrum are the asylum seekers who have practically no rights at all.  Then the undocumented migrants who have some civil rights, but no social, political or economic rights. Visa-holders have their rights restricted based on the type of visa they hold. Permanent residents have all except, mainly, political rights and some social rights.

“Denizenship has grown most in China, where 200 million rural migrants have lost rights in moving to the cities and industrial workshops that serve the world. They are denied the hukou, the residence passbook that would give them resident rights and the right to receive benefits and be employed legally in their own country.” (96)

Even more crucially,

“Unlike in the early twentieth century, much of today’s migration is not assimilation to new citizenship but is more of a de-citizenship process. Instead of being settlers, many migrants are denied several forms of citizenship – rights held by local national, rights of citizenship from where they come and rights that come with legal status. Many also lack occupational citizenship, with the right to practise their occupation denied. They are also not on a trajectory to gain these rights initially denied to them, making them super-exploitable. And they are not becoming part of a proletariat, a working class of stabilised labourers. They are disposable, with no access to state and enterprise benefits.

This highlights the fragmented labour process in which varieties of the precariat have different entitlements and a different structure of social income. It feeds through into the issue of identity. Natives can display multiple identities, legal migrants can focus on the identity that gives them most security and illegals must not display, for fear of being exposed.” (96)

These characteristics make them more vulnerable to fall into the precariat but it also turns migrants into a kind of “floating” precariat, the ultimate deterritorialized, flexible and liquid workforce. Their presence increases inequalities within the host society and resentment among the working class, both of which can be profitably exploited economically and politically. At the same time, in low-population-growth societies (think Western Europe), they are the indispensable workforce.

In developing countries, the supposed economic miracles of the Asian tigers was built on a precariat composed of young rural women:

“Global capitalism has been built on migrant labour, first in what used to be called the NICs (newly industrialised countries). In the 1980s, I recall many visits to the export processing zones of Malaysia to factories run by some of the great names of global capital, such as Motorola, Honda and Hewlett Packard. It was not a proletariat being formed but a temporary precarious labour force. Thousands of young women from the kampongs (villages) were housed in shabby hostels, labouring for incredibly long workweeks and then expected to leave after several years, once their health and capacities had deteriorated. Many left with poor eyesight and chronic back problems. Global capitalism was built on their backs.” (106)

And China is a leader of that pack even now moving to an export labor regime where it buys depressed industrial assets in Europe (thanks to the financial crisis and favorable foreign exchange), and uses them as Chinese firms, using Chinese labor. this has been especially the case in Italy and Greece. From then, these firms compete and often outbid European firms for public infrastructure contracts.

In this context then, sovereignty then is used a disciplining tool to decide who can live and work where and under what conditions. The mechanisms of the nation-state are policing entities, managing the masses of flexible, deterritorialized and precarized labor pushing and pulling migrants according to the needs of global capitalism.

Posted in Book Reviews, Globalization, Labor, Migration, Precarization, Sociology | No Comments »

The Visual Du Jour – Hey! Where’d Everybody Go?

September 8, 2011 by and tagged ,

Via Urban Demographics:

According to the post, there are seven drivers to population growth:

  1. Higher incomes
  2. January temperature
  3. Proximity to ports
  4. Higher density level (not too high)
  5. Education level
  6. Low manufacturing employment
  7. Limits to housing supply

See here also:

“1. Population growth was much higher in counties with higher incomes as of 2000. Americans unsurprisingly moved to areas that deliver higher wages.

2. January temperature continues to be a strong predictor of population growth. This fact reflects both a natural affinity for warmth, and also the tendency of many Sunbelt areas to have fewer barriers to building.

3. Population growth was faster near ports. While 19th century Americans populated the American hinterland, 21st century Americans are moving to the country’s periphery.

4. People are moving to dense areas, but not the densest areas. Despite the decline in transportation costs, people are still disproportionately moving to places that had higher density levels as of 2000, responding to the enormous productivity advantages associated with proximity.

5. The education level of a county as of 2000 strongly predicts population growth over the last decade. Again, this trend reflects the tendency of skilled areas to generate far higher incomes.

6. Manufacturing employment predicts lower population growth. While manufacturing has predicted urban decline for decades, the connection between manufacturing and lower levels of growth across all U.S. counties is a more recent phenomenon.

7. Limits to housing supply that come from either nature or regulation will also limit population growth. The most expensive areas have not grown all that much and the areas that have grown most demonstrably are not that expensive.”

Posted in Migration, Population | No Comments »

Mafia Wars

August 11, 2011 by and tagged , , ,

Another great episode of Al-Jazeera’s People and Power on human trafficking from Nigeria into Italy and the subsequent Mafia wars between Italian mafia and Nigerian criminal organizations:

As this Guardian article notes, it is a familiar story:

“Illegal immigrants first came to Castel Volturno from Nigeria in the 1980s to work on the tomato farms in the countryside but when those farms went out of business there was no work, legal or otherwise. Some of them soon realised there was a different kind of money to be made – through the importing and selling of both drugs and humans in a district characterised by extreme poverty and high levels of violent crime. Since Castel Volturno sits in the heartland of the Camorra, a criminal network based in Naples, this could not be done without the consent of its local wing, the Casalesi clan.

But as Nigerian gangsters extended their reach in a town that is now home to one of Europe’s largest concentrations of illegal immigrants, the Casalesi reasserted its authority. In 2008 it killed six African men in a drive-by shooting – the horror of the incident and the riots that followed is captured in Là-bas, a film set to premiere at the Venice film festival. That same year, the campaign against the gangs – involving the police, the government and the local community – brought the singer Miriam Makeba to perform at a festival aimed at defying the Camorra and promoting tolerance, but Mama Africa, as she was known, had a heart attack and died backstage.

(…)

One officer, whose anonymity must be protected, says: “Prostitution is tolerated by the Italian mafia as there will always be people who can earn money through their presence. Nigerians pay [the mafia] and are allowed to continue with their illegal activities. But when this peace is broken there will be war.”

Women working on the Via Domitiana speak of shattered dreams, of €60,000 debts – a sum they had no concept of before they arrived in Italy – and of a deep, terrifying fear of breaking the juju ceremonies that bind them to their traffickers.

Isoke Aikpitanyi is a former prostitute who was lured to Italy with the promise of a hairdressing job. The salon did not exist and instead she became, she says, “a modern slave” trapped in the town’s dark underbelly. Standing on the road, she sold herself because her madam would “kill me because I have [earned] nothing”. She did so for a pittance. “Some have pity on you and give you 20 to 50 euros. But normally they give you 10.” Aikpitanyi escaped but others have not been so lucky.”

And with the extra twist of religion, it is even more appalling:

“Isoke Aikpitanyi, a former victim of trafficking and now the main reference point for Nigerian women in Italy, knows how this business is managed in Caserta’s area. As she walks in Castel Volturno’s historic centre, she explains: “Today in Italy there are almost 10,000 madams, each one in control of an average of two or three girls.”

Madams are the key, she explains. They are the main actors in this exploitation. They force girls into prostitution and ask for money to repay the debt. They work with “brothers”, men who are in charge of physically trafficking the “babies”, as girls forced into prostitution are called.

But Nigerian human trafficking is often associated with drug smuggling and a distorted use of religious tradition.

The women and girls are often forced to undergo a Juju oath-swearing ritual that commits them to repaying the money they owe to their smugglers on pain of death or insanity.

“The Juju, the voodoo rite, it’s not a bad practice. It was used to bring justice, but they ruined everything,” says Isoke with anger. “They don’t care how they make their money as far as they make it. They use Juju to enslave.”

Posted in Globalization, Migration, Organized Crime, Trafficking | No Comments »

The Visual Du Jour – Global Migration

July 18, 2011 by and tagged , ,

This is an incredibly awesome interactive tool on emigration / immigration (where people come from and where they go) om a global scale (via Urban Demographics):

World Migration

Seriously, go play with it. You’ll thank me.

Posted in Globalization, Migration, Population | No Comments »

You Won’t Have The Mexicans to Kick Around Anymore

July 9, 2011 by and tagged , ,

Because, well…

As the article notes:

“The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United States over the past 30 years has sputtered to a trickle, and research points to a surprising cause: unheralded changes in Mexico that have made staying home more attractive.

A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments — expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families — are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States.

(…)

Douglas S. Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton, an extensive, long-term survey in Mexican emigration hubs, said his research showed that interest in heading to the United States for the first time had fallen to its lowest level since at least the 1950s. “No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped,” Mr. Massey said, referring to illegal traffic. “For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.”

The decline in illegal immigration, from a country responsible for roughly 6 of every 10 illegal immigrants in the United States, is stark. The Mexican census recently discovered four million more people in Mexico than had been projected, which officials attributed to a sharp decline in emigration.

American census figures analyzed by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center also show that the illegal Mexican population in the United States has shrunk and that fewer than 100,000 illegal border-crossers and visa-violators from Mexico settled in the United States in 2010, down from about 525,000 annually from 2000 to 2004. Although some advocates for more limited immigration argue that the Pew studies offer estimates that do not include short-term migrants, most experts agree that far fewer illegal immigrants have been arriving in recent years.

The question is why. Experts and American politicians from both parties have generally looked inward, arguing about the success or failure of the buildup of border enforcement and tougher laws limiting illegal immigrants’ rights — like those recently passed in Alabama and Arizona. Deportations have reached record highs as total border apprehensions and apprehensions of Mexicans have fallen by more than 70 percent since 2000.

But Mexican immigration has always been defined by both the push (from Mexico) and the pull (of the United States). The decision to leave home involves a comparison, a wrenching cost-benefit analysis, and just as a Mexican baby boom and economic crises kicked off the emigration waves in the 1980s and ’90s, research now shows that the easing of demographic and economic pressures is helping keep departures in check.

In simple terms, Mexican families are smaller than they had once been. The pool of likely migrants is shrinking. Despite the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, birth control efforts have pushed down the fertility rate to about 2 children per woman from 6.8 in 1970, according to government figures. So while Mexico added about one million new potential job seekers annually in the 1990s, since 2007 that figure has fallen to an average of 800,000, according to government birth records. By 2030, it is expected to drop to 300,000.”

It will be interesting to see the short and middle-term impact of having more jobseekers in Mexico, and far fewer immigrants in the US, especially in the economic sectors where they are traditionally heavily represented.

Posted in Migration, Population, Social Change | No Comments »

The Visual Du Jour – Refugees

June 20, 2011 by and tagged ,

Via the Guardian, do go check out this interactive map.

Where refugees come from:

Refugee statistics mapped

Where they go:

Refugee statistics mapped 2

It is often assumed that refugees come from the periphery and migrate to the core. In reality, of the roughly 43 million refugees, 27 million are internally displaced persons (a rising number). And the number one place for refugees is Afghanistan. A large number of refugees are usually located in countries neighboring their country of origin, meaning, a lot of refugees move from the periphery to the periphery.

Posted in Migration, Population | No Comments »

Book Review – Traȋtres A La Nation

April 16, 2011 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stephane Béaud’s Traîtres À La Nation – Un Autre Regard Sur La Grève Des Bleus en Afrique du Sud (en collaboration avec Philippe Guimard) is perfect and great example of public sociology. It very nicely and powerfully shows what sociological analysis can do, especially with respect to a very high-profile event, such as the “strike” by the French football team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

I really do hope that this book will get an English edition. If that were the case, I would jump on it and make my students use in my undergraduate classes. It is written at the perfect level, uses a lot of concrete examples. There isn’t too much jargon but the sociological analysis is crystal clear and very powerful. And, of course, the topic is guaranteed to get people’s attention. One can point at this book and say “this is what sociology does.”

The starting point of the book, obviously, is the strike by the players of the national French team during the World Cup, followed by their shameful exit from that competition in the early stages (after a very controversial qualification), and the social and political fallout from these events. Considering how discussed these events have already been, what does sociology have to bring to the table? First off, most of the discussion has been tainted by moral, classist and racist considerations. Exit the glorious days of the “black, blanc, beur” winning team of 1998, now, the strike is denounced by politicians as the work of low-class, highly-paid little bosses and the hapless followers. The media and politicians engaged in moral condemnations. Putting oneself in the position of judge, prosecutor and jury is not what sociology does. The job of the sociologist, for Béaud, is the Weberian injunction of Verstehen.

The point of sociological analysis then is to put these events in the proper context (what I call SHiP – structure, history, power) and to retrace the sociological factors that shaped this French national football team (especially in contrast with the 1998 team). What Béaud engages in is what he calls “live sociology” in which moral judgment is suspended and social action is re-situated in is (muli-layered) context, understood as a system of constraints in which individual behavior occurs. That is, the challenge is to treat this event as a social fact (in Durkheim’s sense): the strike is a product of the deregulation of French professional football, structural causes, changes in recruitment, training and socialization of French footballers, the internationalization and precarization of football careers (based on changes in the legal framework). Alongside these structural factors are more institutional and symbolic factors, such as relationships between players and the media, as well as the group dynamics within the French team.

For those of you who don’t remember, the strike of the French team occurred after France’s main sports daily newspaper published the photo to the right, on its front page, after the defeat against Mexico. The comment between quotation marks is supposed to have been said by Anelka against French coach Domenech in the locker rooms. Following the alleged incident, Anelka was expelled from the team by the French Federation.

Arguing the fact that what goes on in the locker rooms is supposed to stay there, and never be divulged to the public, the players went on strike and issues a communiqué (actually drafted by the attorney of one of the players) also blaming the Federation for mismanaging the situation.

For Béaud, this reflects the growing tensions that have been building up between players and the media as well as the changes in these relationships. Whereas these relationships used to be simple and straightforward, if not friendly, they have become more formal, complex and marked by the professionalization of the players. While players used to be approachable, and locker rooms were not closed off to the press, interactions with players are now mediated by the entourage that is characteristic of the main players (attorneys, PR consultants, etc.) and the creation of mixte zones in stadiums is a perfect reflection of that. As a result, it is more difficult to get more than canned talking points out of the players who are already uncomfortable with public speaking.

At the same time, Béaud shows that what happened was not the product of the “little bosses” from the projects pushing the other players into the strike. The French team was indeed divided but not along racial and ethnic lines but rather into group statuses such as established players (incumbent players, those more or less guaranteed to play) versus substitutes. The established group is composed of players who have the most sport legitimacy and credibility, which puts them in positions of leadership.

Compared to other players also from the project, the established players are more sensitive to any feeling of symbolic humiliation and injustice, and they are more likely to experience a relative frustration with the poor game strategy of the French team in recent years, under the leadership of a discredited coach. So, in the 2010 French team, one finds the dominated group, the newcomers, and the recently selected players from African origin. Their lack of either integration in the team or football capital reduced the probability that they would go against the decisions of the established group. And the newspaper frontpage gave the team a unity it had never achieved before.

Add to this the role of the French Football Federation and its incomprehensible to reappoint a discredited coach (which appointing his successor right before the World Cup, thereby undermining him even further), the respective relationships between the players and this coach (certainly, several players from the established group had a grudge against him), the conflict between the FFF and the other major institution involved, the Professional Footballers League. And finally, the infiltration of the political and social tensions from the housing projects into the team all created a bundle of tensions that were bound to explode at some point… and did.

These events are also a reflection of the change in recruitment of players in French football. In the post-War period, one finds most French football players came from the blue-collar working-class (especially the clubs from Northern France). The trajectories of these players are quite different than what they are today. They usually spent their youth years in amateur football, still going to school to obtain technical and vocational qualifications. They become professional relatively late (in their 20s). Therefore, they receive a rather typical working-class socialization. The 1998 team is basically the last fling of that generation of players, with a specific sport and social ethos based on humility, collectivism, respect for the elders and explicit patriotism. This is the working-class before the precarization of the working-class of the deindustrializing years and the defeat of its political power. And the players of the 1998 team who did grow up in the housing projects did so before the ethnic contraction and marginalization of these areas and increased polarization.

There are three major differences between the 1998 team and the 2010 team, sociologically speaking:

(1) There are now more players in the great and economically powerful European teams of England, Italy and Spain. A minority of them now play for French teams.

(2) Players are now recruited by training centers (famous institutions that detect football talents and develop them over several years, with hopes of professionalization right after graduation. These centers have made France the second exporting countries – after Brazil – when it comes to footballers, but they also close off earlier and earlier any real education and occupy a greater part of the players’ socialization) at an earlier and earlier age, and especially from the lower classes. Fewer players now come from the working-class French heartland, and more and more from the housing projects on the outskirts of France’s largest cities.

(3) There are now more players of African origin, especially sub-saharan Africa, as opposed to the Maghreb, and from players from France’s territories (Antilles, Guadeloupe, etc.).

This greater internationalization of football out of France is directly connected to the legal context created by the Bosman Ruling, which allowed players to have greater freedom of movement from one club to the next. This greater freedom has also led to the massive inflation of footballer compensation. All of a sudden, the most powerful European clubs were able to recruit players from all over Europe, and the players were able to demand higher pay for their services. These teams have been accused of pillaging other countries for their own benefit. If French football creates great players, the French teams are not economically strong enough to retain them once these players fully develop their potential. This has led former players to deplore the lack of “fidelity to the jersey”. This also means that teams are less likely to have a trademark style of play, as the recruitment is no longer local and long-term.

Now, a player will typically enter a training center around 15 years old (if not pre-training centers that recruit even younger players) and they may leave for a non-French team even before their training is complete to start playing for the club that has recruited them. And the Bosman Ruling allows these young players to change club more easily (making more money in the process). As a result, their trajectories are much less smooth and their socialization more chaotic as they leave their families at a fairly young age. For the lower-class parents of these players, to sign a professional contract is a way out of the project for their son and club scouts start contacting parents as early as possible (the competition is extreme), making them incredible offers. From the clubs’ perspective, these young players are commodities, and they expect rather rapid returns on investment, so as to re-sell the players at an even higher price than they paid for him.

This means that, at a young age, players have to be surrounded by a whole entourage of agents, attorneys for themselves and their parents, along with the usual trainers, PR people, etc. But in the context of increased precarization for the lower classes, social tensions in the projects, and the ever-more repressive policies put in place by the Sarkozy government, who could resist?

So, Béaud argues that the strike of 2010 in South Africa is an act of civil disobedience and also a reflection of all these structural and cyclical factors: the changes in socialization of the players, transformation of the labor market for French football players, the impact of geographical and sport migration and the corresponding social uprooting, along with the pressures tied to the obligation to perform earlier, faster and better in a very competitive context… on top of the group dynamics and the interpersonal and institutional issues mentioned above.

Béaud wraps up his study with an analysis of the evolution of the players of Maghreb origin in French football, inserting it as well in the social context of immigration and integration. The last two chapters of the book are less directly related to the 2010 fiasco but they additional layers to an understanding of French football in its social context.

As I mentioned above, this book is a great read (something that does not happen enough in sociology!) and a great example of public sociology and live sociology. Highly recommended… if you can read French.

<p style=”text-align: justify;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.fr/Tra%C3%AEtres-nation-autre-regard-Afrique/dp/2707167169/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1302999785&amp;sr=1-1″ target=”_blank”><img style=”margin: 5px;” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41FnLegOc1L._SL500_AA300_.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>Stephane Béaud’s <a href=”http://www.amazon.fr/Tra%C3%AEtres-nation-autre-regard-Afrique/dp/2707167169/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1302999785&amp;sr=1-1″ target=”_blank”>Traîtres À La Nation – Un Autre Regard Sur La Grève Des Bleus en Afrique du Sud</a> (en collaboration avec Philippe Guimard) is perfect and great example of public sociology. It very nicely and powerfully shows what sociological analysis can do, especially with respect to a very high-profile event, such as the “strike” by the French football team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”>I really do hope that this book will get an English edition. If that were the case, I would jump on it and make my students use in my undergraduate classes. It is written at the perfect level, uses a lot of concrete examples. There isn’t too much jargon but the sociological analysis is crystal clear and very powerful. And, of course, the topic is guaranteed to get people’s attention. One can point at this book and say “this is what sociology does.”</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”>The starting point of the book, obviously, is the strike by the players of the national French team during the World Cup, followed by their shameful exit from that competition in the early stages (after a very controversial qualification), and the social and political fallout from these events. Considering how discussed these events have already been, what does sociology have to bring to the table? First off, most of the discussion has been tainted by moral, classist and racist considerations. Exit the glorious days of the “black, blanc, beur” winning team of 1998, now, the strike is denounced by politicians as the work of low-class, highly-paid little bosses and the hapless followers. The media and politicians engaged in moral condemnations. Putting oneself in the position of judge, prosecutor and jury is not what sociology does. The job of the sociologist, for Béaud, is the Weberian injunction of Verstehen.</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”>The point of sociological analysis then is to put these events in the proper context (what I call SHiP – structure, history, power) and to retrace the sociological factors that shaped this French national football team (especially in contrast with the 1998 team). What Béaud engages in is what he calls “live sociology” in which moral judgment is suspended and social action is re-situated in is (muli-layered) context, understood as a system of constraints in which individual behavior occurs. That is, the challenge is to treat this event as a social fact (in Durkheim’s sense): the strike is a product of the deregulation of French professional football, structural causes, changes in recruitment, training and socialization of French footballers, the internationalization and precarization of football careers (based on changes in the legal framework). Alongside these structural factors are more institutional and symbolic factors, such as relationships between players and the media, as well as the group dynamics within the French team.</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”><a href=”http://e-blogs.wikio.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/LEquipe_Anelka_Domenech_UNE1.jpg” target=”_blank”><img style=”margin: 5px;” src=”http://e-blogs.wikio.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/LEquipe_Anelka_Domenech_UNE1.jpg” alt=”" width=”320″ height=”217″ /></a>For those of you who don’t remember, the strike of the French team occurred after France’s main sports daily newspaper published the photo to the right, on its front page, after the defeat against Mexico. The comment between quotation marks is supposed to have been said by Anelka against French coach Domenech in the locker rooms. Following the alleged incident, Anelka was expelled from the team by the French Federation.</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”>Arguing the fact that what goes on in the locker rooms is supposed to stay there, and never be divulged to the public, the players went on strike and issues a communiqué (actually drafted by the attorney of one of the players) also blaming the Federation for mismanaging the situation.</p>
<p align=”center”><object classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ width=”480″ height=”390″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0″><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”src” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/GBl8Ia5_dCA?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US” /><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”480″ height=”390″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/GBl8Ia5_dCA?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”>For Béaud, this reflects the growing tensions that have been building up between players and the media as well as the changes in these relationships. Whereas these relationships used to be simple and straightforward, if not friendly, they have become more formal, complex and marked by the professionalization of the players. While players used to be approachable, and locker rooms were not closed off to the press, interactions with players are now mediated by the entourage that is characteristic of the main players (attorneys, PR consultants, etc.) and the creation of mixte zones in stadiums is a perfect reflection of that. As a result, it is more difficult to get more than canned talking points out of the players who are already uncomfortable with public speaking.</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”>At the same time, Béaud shows that what happened was not the product of the “little bosses” from the projects pushing the other players into the strike. The French team was indeed divided but not along racial and ethnic lines but rather into group statuses such as established players (incumbent players, those more or less guaranteed to play) versus substitutes. The established group is composed of players who have the most sport legitimacy and credibility, which puts them in positions of leadership. Compared to other players also from the project, the established players are more sensitive to any feeling of symbolic humiliation and injustice, and they are more likely to experience a relative frustration with the poor game strategy of the French team in recent years, under the leadership of a discredited coach. So, in the 2010 French team, one finds the dominated group, the newcomers, and the recently selected players from African origin. Their lack of either integration in the team or football capital reduced the probability that they would go against the decisions of the established group. And the newspaper frontpage gave the team a unity it had never achieved before.</p>
<p style=”text-align: justify;”></p>

Posted in Book Reviews, Collective Behavior, Commodification, Globalization, Identity, Institutional Racism, Media, Migration, Nationalism, Organizational Sociology, Racism, Social Institutions, Social Interaction, Social Sanctions, Social Stigma, Social Structure, Socialization, Sociology, Sports, Teaching Sociology | No Comments »

“Doing” Globalization – Football Transfer Networks

November 21, 2010 by and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Tony Karon on football and globalization and how the European championship leagues “belong” to Africa in the sense that African audiences follow them assiduously, spot the jerseys of their favorite teams, etc.:

At the same time, Raffaele Poli, in “Understanding globalization through football: The new international division of labour, migratory channels and transnational trade circuits”, International Review for the Sociology of Sports, 45 (1), 491  -506, dissects the more complex connections between Africa and European leagues:

“The purpose of the article is to show that the general tendency of increase in the international flow of athletes does not occur by itsef, as a general feature of the contemporary world, but concretely depends on the actions of a plurality of actors who, by the relations they build on a daily basis, are responsible for the interconnection between specific zones of departure and arrival. Generally speaking, globalization is not seen as as outcome that actors cannot influence, but as a structural process directly linked to human agency.” (492)

In other words, Poli adopts a relational perspective (as opposed to a substantive one) that focuses on contexts, networks and processes of social actions. His unit of analysis is neither the individual players and their motivations nor the macro-structures of the world-system. Rather, the unit of analysis is the transfer networks through which players circulate and interact with a variety of other actors. From this perspective, actors use their social capital and network connections in a strategic fashion (but not as decontextualized as in game theory).

Small-scale interactions ultimately lead to large-scale outcomes and patterns which, in turn, shape small-scale interactions. It is these actors-in-network that globalize whichever part of the social structure they operate in as they take advantage of opportunities presented in their interactions with other actors, such as coaches, managers and agents, as well as the constraints of their social context. Networks are then dynamic configurations that set the possibilities and limitations within which actors (in this case, footballers) operate.

“In the case of the footballers’ transfer market, networks are made up of a plurality [sic] actors playing distinct and complementary roles. From a relational perspective, each flow is a concrete, empirical, and synthetic output of networks involving, among others, club officials, managers, agents, talent scouts, investors and, last but not least, players themselves and quite often also their relatives. These actors collaborate to make transfers possible and compete to appropriate the financial added value generated by the latter. As a consequence of this reasoning, we consider that no flows occur without the participation of multiple stakeholders who are directly or indirectly linked [sic] each other, and whose decision-making power is greater or lesser according to circumstances and opportunities.” (494)

Actors then may take into account global factors in their decision-making as well as global flows and their directionality. Regarding professional football, there is a “before Bosman” and “after Bosman” era (which allowed players greater freedom of movement and transfer). After Bosman, there was an increase in expatriate footballers, mostly from Latin America and Africa playing in Europe.

Spanish, French and Italian clubs are especially likely to hire outside of the continent than English and German clubs. As with other types of economic activity, there are transnational migratory channels, structured by intermediaries, for highly skilled labor. These channels could not exist without what Poli calls “massive network investments.” (498)

When it comes to the intersections between geography of origin of the players and their destination, Poli notes a high concentration of expatriate African players in France whereas Western European expatriates end up largely in England and Eastern European expatriate are more likely to end up in Germany. Latin American expatriate players are more likely to end up in Spain and Italy. These patterns can be explained by a combination of geographical proximity and historical links. But using three specific cases, Poli shows that the presence of networks and intermediaries was central to the trajectories of players.

Based on these cases, Poli identifies different types of spaces and clubs through which players transit through the transnational trade circuits, based on their specific decisions in interaction with networks and other actors. Each space represents a structure of opportunities and constraints:

  • The platform space: the first country to which the player comes from (often the periphery or the semi-periphery)
  • The stepping stone space: the country from which the player gains access to a “big league” country (for instance, less dominant European countries in the European football world)
  • The transit space: the country the player passes through and leaves and where the level of competition is what he is used to
  • The relay space: the country where the player was loaned before he returned to either the stepping stone or the transit spaces
  • The destination space: the wealthiest and most prestigious leagues and clubs (England)

The player trajectories may not go through all of these space (except for the first one, and probably the second one) as not every expatriate makes it to the destination space, and some may get stuck in less prestigious leagues and clubs (there is both upward and downward mobility).

What individual trajectories shape up to be is again a function of interaction with specific social networks and human intermediation, social capital, economic and speculative interests, competitive advantages and structured inequalities in the world-system. In that sense, globalization is not just an outcome over which players have no effect but both the structural context in which they operate but also what they “do” as they activate global networks as part of their strategies and trajectories.

Posted in Embeddedness, Global Governance, Globalization, Labor, Migration, Networks, Social Capital, Sociological Articles, Sociology, Sports | No Comments »

Sunday Sociology Song – Clandestino

October 3, 2010 by and tagged ,

By Manu Chao, a short song on the condition of the undocumented immigrant:

Lyrics:

Solo voy con mi pena
Sola va mi condena
Correr es mi destino
Para burlar la ley
Perdido en el corazón
De la grande Babylon
Me dicen el clandestino
Por no llevar papel
Pa’ una ciudad del norte
Yo me fui a trabajar
Mi vida la dejé
Entre Ceuta y Gibraltar
Soy una raya en el mar
Fantasma en la ciudad
Mi vida va prohibida
Dice la autoridad
Solo voy con mi pena
Sola va mi condena
Correr es mi destino
Por no llevar papel
Perdido en el corazón
De la grande Babylon
Me dicen el clandestino
Yo soy el quiebra ley
Mano Negra clandestina
Peruano clandestino
Africano clandestino
Marijuana ilegal
Solo voy con mi pena
Sola va mi condena
Correr es mi destino
Para burlar la ley
Perdido en el corazón
De la grande Babylon
Me dicen el clandestino
Por no llevar papel

Posted in Migration, Music | No Comments »

Ignoring Sociological Research Makes for Bad and Ineffective Policy

July 20, 2010 by and tagged , ,

Here is another example that makes my blood boil: when newspapers suddenly discover something that sociological has long established. Here are a few notes I jotted down during an ASA plenary session in 2008:

“Bottom line: the current immigration situation is absurd: the backlog at the INS, the stupid wall, the militarization of the border, the raids, all these things, according to Doug Massey to increasing illegal immigration into the US… before the current trend of nativism (which increased after 9/11… never mind that Mexico has never been a base of terrorism, no terrorist has ever come from Mexico… as far as terrorism is concerned in North America, the US should look North: Canada… there are real cells there and there is recruitment going on).

How has this increased immigration? Because the strengthening of border controls makes it difficult for Mexican to enter the US but it also makes it hard for them to go home the same way. Before the current situation, individual men would come, work here for years, send back remittances. Some of them would settle but many would return. Now, it is entire families who come undocumented, because they know it is going to be hard to return. This situation creates hybrid families as far as immigration status is concerned. One spouse may have a visa but not the other, some of the children were brought over from Mexico (therefore undocumented) while others are born in the US.

The result is that whereas the Latino population used to be concentrated in the Southwestern states (where there are still in large numbers), they are now in the 50 states and especially in the South (Massey conducted studies in North Carolina, among other states) where nativist reactions have been quite strong.”

And here is an excerpt from a WaPo article from a few days ago:

“But will more boots really seal the border? Immigration reform has a long history of unintended consequences: More than two decades of increased enforcement since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 has done little to reduce the number of illegal immigrants. In fact, its seems to have increased their numbers. Meanwhile, the question of jobs, which are the true driver of legal and illegal immigration, has been largely neglected.

Princeton University sociologist Douglas Massey pointed out nearly a decade ago that measures to secure the border seemed to produce almost the opposite of what was intended. By making the northward crossing more dangerous and expensive, Massey and co-authors Jorge Durand and Nolan J. Malone wrote in 2002, the border buildup discouraged seasonal laborers from going back to Mexico when they were not working.

With increasing border enforcement, workers who used to shuttle between jobs in California or Texas and home in Zacatecas or Michoacán simply began to stay put and sent for their families, becoming permanent, if sometimes reluctant, residents. According to Massey, post-IRCA border enforcement may have increased the size of the permanent Mexican population in the United States by a factor of nearly four.

More unintended consequences: The anti-immigrant backlash that sparked Arizona’s string of anti-immigration legislation — the new law seeking to drive illegal immigrants out of the state most famously among them — was produced in large part by tighter border controls in Texas and California. That enforcement squeezed the smuggling of immigrants and drugs into Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and mountains.”

Well, Massey has been working on this for over a decade, why does the newspaper suddenly discover this? How many journalists actually do keep up with sociological research on issues they cover or specialize in? Even further back, at another ASA annual meeting, Barbara Ehrenreich deplored the lack of database of sociologists + topics that journalists should be able to tap into when they conduct research. This was a great idea and I don’t know that it has happened. Part of the problem is often that journalists probably do not think of consulting sociologists all that often. They consult psychologists, economists or political scientists. Sociologists? Not so much.

But the result of this lack of public hearing for sociological research (either in the media or the political arena, although they are increasingly the same “Village”) may very well contribute to bad policy.

And to wake up to research done over ten years ago and consistently validated since is way too late because by then, the debate has been framed in a faulty fashion.

Posted in Migration, Public Policy, Sociology | No Comments »

« Previous Entries