Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1-4 August 2012

Research Committee on
Sociology of Migration, RC31

  on-line programme

Programme Coordinator

David BARTRAM, University of Leicester, United Kingdom,

RC31 Liaison in Argentina
Bernardo Maresca, Asociación Argentina de Sociología,


All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.


provisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order


Diasporas, nation-states and regional integration

Migration is a precursor to diaspora, a perennial phenomena with roots in antiquity. Diasporas could be categorised into pre-modern diaspora and modern diaspora. Some of the crucial roles of the diaspora include political, social, economic, and cultural involvements of migrants and their descendants in both their homelands and their destination countries. Diasporas tend to maintain their distinctive identities and connections with their homelands and other dispersed groups of the same nation.

Regional integration involves some compromise on the part of nations-states, but it is intended to facilitate the general quality of life of the people of the states and can be a driver for political stability, sustainable development and poverty eradication for the region.

This session seeks papers that are empirically and theoretically researched on the pre-modern diasporas and modern diasporas, the diaspora’s activities in their home and origin countries and how the movements of diasporas back and forth can facilitate integration of nation-states and people.


Disasters and social justice for migrants

The objective of this session is to invite discussions of the impact of disasters on migration and social justice. In particular, we want to discuss the role of devastating disasters play in the social changes in migration policies and attitudes towards migrants in the life-world. The motivation for proposing this discussion comes from the experience of the dramatic social changes in Japan since the devastating Tohoku disaster in 2011.

Before the disaster, a strict migration policy was applied to migrants in Japan. However, after the disaster, many migrants evacuated from Japan after the nuclear scare without applying for reentry visas, and the situation led the Japanese government to realize that migrants are a crucial part of its society and to accept the need for a more flexible policy for migrants. Another thought-provoking issue is how social justice worked during the rescue, e.g. for provision of food, shelter and jobs at a grass-roots level. At the temporary shelters opened for victims of the disaster, migrants were said to be treated equally to share the food aid.

How exactly did the Tohoku disaster lead to social changes in Japan? One reason could be the vulnerability of Japanese economics and infrastructure revealed after the disaster. Before the disaster, most of Japanese had not realized how much their economic growth and social structure were relied upon migrants. Japan had compensated for its shortage of workforce population with migrants. Many rural areas have received foreign brides to address the population decline problem. Furthermore, tourism in Japan was highly dependent on foreign visitors.

The specific question is whether the disaster effect in Japan can be generalized globally. While referring to other disaster cases in the world, we would like to invite discussions to generalize the experiences and draw implications to examine the relationship between migrants and host societies.


Food, family and migration

This session refers to the process of adjustment of immigrants’ families regarding cooking their own food. It intends to discuss possible changes of gender roles, replacements of ingredients, incorporation of new dishes, changes of manners, and also changes of taste from both the first generation and the second one. Does the first generation show a tendency of keeping its own dishes? Does the second generation refuses eating those dishes, and prefer having the new style of cooking? How can immigrants’ families share a meal with others who do not follow their own taboos regarding certain foods? Considering that the access of food is limited by social class, race/ethnicity, gender and age – how do immigrants’ families act regarding these boundaries?


Ground-level multiculturalism: Contributing conditions and different displays

Preoccupied with debates about the adequate understanding of multiculturalism as a set of civic-political ideas and its (mal)functioning in legal and institutional arrangements, social scientists have devoted little attention to this phenomenon as conceived and practiced by people in their everyday lives. This session will focus on ‘ground-level’ multiculturalism and, specifically, on (i) its definitional components or dimensions; (ii) macro- and micro-level features of the environment and personal characteristics of the human actors that enhance or hinder multicultural orientations and practice, and (iii) specific displays of ground-level multiculturalism in different settings.

Interested participants are invited to submit their papers which should deal with any or all of the above-noted issues. Theoretical reflections and/or assessments based on both quantitative and qualitative types of empirical evidence are welcome.


In and out of place: Participation of transnational migrants in civil society

It is by now quite obvious that active participation in the local society is crucial for the plain exercise of citizenship and that citizenship requires, in addition to formal rights, a public sphere within which citizens can actively participate within and beyond the state; conversely, it is also evident that there are significant differences regarding the ways in which individuals and social groups participate in the local society and regarding the outcomes of such participation. In this sense, the growth of transnational migration in the last decades has revealed, among other things, the limitations of a ‘modern’ understanding of the concept and practice of citizenship such that it circumscribes citizenship, hence the right to participate, to the national citizens of a given state. In this session we are interested in exploring the relationships between the participation of migrants in the local space, in the glocality, and the construction of civil society; that is, research that analyzes the ways through which participating in collective action around shared objectives, purposes and values may, effectively, conform uncoerced grounds where individuals and social groups take decisions about the strategies to be followed in order to accomplish such objectives, and the ways through which these decisions may, effectively, impinge on local, regional, national or supranational policies.

Empirical and theoretically oriented papers addressing the political implications of the participation of migrants in social movements, workers’ unions, political parties, associations, mass media are welcomed. We also welcome papers that approach the role of social networks, kinship and social capital in either facilitating or restraining the participation of migrants in civil society as well as papers that take a comparative perspective on the articulation of participation and social cohesion at the local, national and transnational scapes.


Latin American migration, development and transnational citizenship: A South-North academic dialogue

After three decades of research using a transnational lens on immigrant practices, today, migrants are no longer considered as uprooted individuals who cut links with their home country critiques. Instead, research on transnationalism shows that migrants are increasingly capable of maintaining strong social connections with the home society. Factors such as the globalization of world economy, the dependence of sending states on emigrant remittances and the development of transport and communication technologies increasingly allow emigrants to be active in two spaces at the same time.

The study of Latin American migration has greatly benefited from the development of research on transnationalism for most of the founding works have focused on the relations between Latin American migrants residing in the United States and their home countries. Despite the growing number of Latin American and European researchers working on the transnational practices of Latin American migrants, the predominance of North American scholars in the study of immigrant transnationalism however opens the way to the pitfalls of methodological nationalism. In this session, we therefore propose to take the opportunity of the ISA conference being held in Buenos Aires to foster academic dialogue between scholars on Latin American migration from the North and the South.

A central characteristic of Latin American migration in the past decade is indeed that they have globalized. From being a migration exclusively directed towards the United States or other Latin American countries, Latin American migrants are now increasingly choosing Europe as a destination. Unsurprisingly, the new Latin American migrants, just like their predecessors, have managed to keep transnational connections with their home countries. Economic remittances have long been considered the main indicator of these transnational connections. However, Latin-American studies have proved that remittances do not necessary lead to development in the origin communities and countries of migrants. Thus, attention should be paid to other transnational links, such as informal contacts with family and friends and more formal ways of participation – through associations, churches, trade unions and political parties – in order to analyse the socio-political impact of migration, not only in term of development, but also in term of social justice.

In this context, how do transnational practices of Latin American migrants vary according to their country of destination? What policies are sending states implementing to keep ties with a migrant population that has diversified? How are the communities of origin affected by the globalization of Latin American migration? These are the questions that we shall discuss through presentations and debates that will gather researchers from Latin America, Europe and North America.


Migrant 'illegality' and non-citizen precarious status in the Americas


Migrating out of the home and into the gendered and racialized globalized market of household labor

This panel examines the racialized globalized market that reproduces traditional gendered labor, particularly in informal economic service sectors. Many women who migrate to become their families’ financial providers leave their families behind and subsequently experience a move away from traditional family roles. Yet, globalized care work places them back in the home engaged in traditional women’s work.

We know that in many countries that hire immigrant women as care workers, the tasks required as paid domestics or caretakers are racialized, as well as gendered, but what are the similarities and differences around the world? In what ways do immigration systems and policies, as well as the migration process, reinforce the gendering and racialization of labor? What state practices in receiving and sending countries further gender or racialized work relations? What are the consequences for various groups of immigrant and migrant workers laboring in the same location? What are these women’s labor experiences?

In addition, the panel examines the type of collective strategies used to change working conditions, gain social justice and erode these women’s vulnerable position in the labor market. Are social justice strategies focused on the receiving countries’ legislation of working conditions or immigration? What strategies appear to be the most successful? Why? What are the factors that contribute to successful strategies?


Migration and development. Part I.

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development and RC31 Sociology of Migration [host committee]
Scholarly interest in transnational migration has emerged in the context of the massive population movements that have occurred in the current era of globalization. Changes in the international economy and the diffusion of space-time compressing technologies have created the conditions that intensify exchanges between immigrants and their places of origin. Immigrants pursue either individual or collective relationships with the country of origin for a variety of reasons including difficulty in obtaining economic security in either sending and receiving societies, racial and ethnic discrimination in the host society, and/or a desire to assist in the socioeconomic development of communities of origin often neglected by home governments or destroyed by civil conflict.

Migrant-led transnationalism includes maintaining kinship and social networks across borders, sending or receiving remittances, and the establishment of hometown associations that engage in collective community projects in the home region among other activities. The elaborate linkages between migrant sending and receiving areas that emerge lead some analysts to conceive of transnational migration as a phenomenon that may go beyond individuals and households, incorporating entire communities (migrant and non-migrant members) into the globalization process.

For this session we encourage theoretically orientated case studies or theoretical reflections based on empirical facts linked to the issue of transnational migration and development in the Global South. In particular we are interested in papers that address the issue of remittances, both individual and collective, and what they mean for the transformation of the migrant sending communities. Papers that examine the impact of the current economic downturn on remittances and conditions in sending regions are also encouraged. Finally, papers may consider how hometown associations relate to their interlocutors in the migrant sending communities (local elites, community organizations, local government officials, etc.).


Migration and development. Part II.

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee] and RC31 Sociology of Migration


Migration and quality of life. Part I

Joint session of RC31 Sociology of Migration and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]
Migration is typically a means by which migrants attempt to improve their quality of life (and/or that of their families). What does “quality of life” mean for migrants, i.e., to what extent and in what ways does that concept hold different meanings for migrants relative to natives and to governments in the receiving countries? Under what conditions do migrants end up succeeding in improving their lives via migration? What factors impede their efforts in this regard? Are there already or should be designed and implemented policies that would increase migrant’s well-being? How can we measure the impact of these policies? Which social indicators should be used for the field of migrant’s well-being?

The “Migration and quality of life” is a session of RC55 (Social Indicators) and RC31 (Sociology of Migration) that aims at deepening sociological knowledge on the migration situation and policies while contributing to conceptualization and development of social indicators for this particular area. Organizers seek to attract papers that give systematic consideration to the meaning and determinants of “quality of life” and “well-being” among migrants, as well as to the public policies in this field.

Drawing on the increasing tendency among sociologists to rethink/transcend conventional and sometimes unexamined assumptions about quality of life (in part as a consequence of the rapidly growing interest in “happiness studies”), we also look for case studies or comparative papers that will make a base for a global awareness of the problems of migrant’s well-being. Papers exploring normative/ethical questions relating to migrant situation and/or link individual action in this field with problems of social justice and democratization are also very welcomed.


Migration and quality of life. Part II

Joint session of RC31 Sociology of Migration and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]


Migration in (post-) socialist societies

Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee] and RC31 Sociology of Migration
Processes of migration are of longstanding disciplinary and interdisciplinary academic interest. This panel seeks to expand the understanding of migration related processes in (post-) socialist societies. Previously, migration was restricted in most (if not all) socialist societies by strict state regulations and control. Since the fall of the former Soviet Union and the eastern bloc in 1989 many of the former socialist countries as well as some countries that officially remain socialist (e.g. Cuba, China, North Korea or Vietnam) face less state control with respect to migration and thus allow their populations more freedom. While the choice of “free movement” in some countries still heavily depends on the state, others grant their citizens more leeway for self-determination.

The panel hopes to build on empirical data that is theoretically grounded and/or that combines theories of (post-) socialism and migration. We will address the following research questions by relying both on past and current experiences and by pursuing concrete case and country examples. Contributions can focus on the state, the individual or offer a combined approach.

We will inquire into the reasons states encouraged or prevented migration. It is also of interest if these policies are linked with the attempt of states to secure their power in order to prevent social or political unrest (e.g. from ethnic or religious minorities). Papers are encouraged that investigate if, and in what respect, the events of the late 1980’s influenced socialists states’ control of migration on the one hand, and individual choices to migrate out or within their country of origin on the other hand.

In addition we will include perspectives focusing on individuals and their families: How did individual choices to migrate correspond with state regulations? If regulations were restrictive, was it possible to avoid official regulations in order to fulfill the personal wish to migrate and if so what actions were undertaken? If migration was mandated, what kinds of actions were performed in order to avoid a governmental demand to migrate? If an encouraged or forced migration had to be accepted, what experiences did people face? We especially welcome contributions based on Cuba, China, North Korea and Vietnam.


Migration of labour and human rights issues: Reflections on global context

In this Borderless Global Economy, migration of labour-Transnational Migration of Labour- has become a phenomenon of open discourse. Although the exact figure on transnational migration of labour is not available, the data compiled by the United Nations suggest s that around 191 million labourers migrate in the world in a year (2005 figure). Usually it is the trend that the poor labourers both skilled and unskilled migrate from less developed countries to better of countries in search of gainful employment. There are two channels which enhances the process of transnational labour migration. One of them is the registered recruitment agencies and the other channel is the primordial loyalties. Reports published across the globe reveals the facts that these migrant labourers face severe problems in the host countries. The problems are related to wage, employment, housing, and condition of work, health facilities and including the period of stay. Women labourers are not spared. Cases of sexual abuses are prominently reported. It can be easily be synthesized that transnational migrant labourers face severe Human Rights Violations in the host countries.

The main objective of this session is to take stock of human rights violations in case of transnational migration of labour.


Migration, migrants and the development of inclusive urban cultures and identities

Joint session of RC21 Regional and Urban Development and RC31 Sociology of Migration [host committee]
In many multicultural migrant and post-migration cities, similar contradictory trends can be observed in the field of cultures and identities. On the one hand, the pull towards segregation, exclusion, discrimination and ethno-national withdrawal is undeniable, though it may vary from country to country and from city to city. On the other hand, the pull toward residential integration, co-inclusion, cultural encounters, cultural métissage is just as undeniable, though it may seem on the wane compared with the last decade in the 20th century.

In order to make sense of these observed contradictory trends, the session will explore discourses, policies and practices in the local artistic field of post-migration multicultural cities by addressing the following questions: how do cities construct diversity discourses and policies? How do migrants and following generations mobilize in the local artistic scene? What type of collective identities (post-colonial, religious, trans-ethnic, religious, etc.) and ethnicities are publicly expressed and constructed in the field of arts? Are immigrant and ethnic artists and productions supported by official cultural institutions? Are local cultural policies becoming multicultural? How do migrant and ethnic artist mobilize in order to change cultural policies? What is the contribution of policies and practices in the local artistic field in contrasting inequalities and poverty in multicultural settings/neighbourhoods in an innovative way? etc.

The session clearly combines top-down and bottom-up perspectives from a variety of large, mid-size and small cities across the globe and welcomes papers addressing the issues comparatively or on the basis of single case studies.


Migration, migrants and the development of inclusive urban cultures and identities II


New migration profiles in a globalised world and changing paradigms of migration

This session aims at collecting new researches corresponding to the changing profiles in migration which occurred at the turn of this century all over the world, characterised by interdependence, multipolarisation of several regionalised migration systems and the difficult legitimacy of a multilateral governance of migrations. South-south migrations have now reached the same volume as South-north ones, tourism and settlement of retired people at the south have become a new concern, some forms of brain drain are also including care drain at the east and at the south, and the categorisations of migrants profiles have been blurred in many areas, making more difficult the implementation of secured migration policies.

The diaspora of knowledge has reached a large extension, and the emerging states are now confronted with migration flows, as well as former emigration countries which have become transit and immigration ones. In the meantime, the migration policies seem to react tardily to this new landscape. All papers corresponding to field studies on these problematics as well as theoretical analysis dealing with changing paradigms of migration are welcome.


Out of Place Emotions: Ambiguity of being


Out of Place Emotions: managing emotions from a distance


RC31 Business Meeting


Repeat migration and social inequalities and equalities

Transnational repeat migrants (people who have crosses national boundaries several times to live elsewhere) are highly under researched. This session seeks to comment on the social inequalities and equalities repeat migrants experienced when they attempted to access desired resources in transnational spaces. Of interest are: 1) the discussion of the relations between the repeat migrants’ cultural identifications and their access to resources in transnational spaces; 2) new conceptualizations of transnationalism and intersectionality that help studying the experiences of repeat migrants; 3) comparison between different types of repeat migrants (i.e. higher-skilled and lower-skilled) and 4) the relations between cosmopolitanism/cultural hybridity and the social equalities and inequalities of repeat migrants.


Sexualities and migration

Despite the increasing mobility of people around the world sexuality in migration process has been an understudied topic. However, it is interesting to look at how sexuality is constructed, negotiated and reconstructed in migration space and the extent to which migration influences these construction processes, especially with regards to sexual identities and sexual practices (including sexual mores and sexual conduct).

Additionally, sexuality intersects and is constructed alongside the other social processes such as gender, class, ‘race’, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age and culture. It is especially interesting to consider such processes when there are differences between the sexuality context left behind and the one encountered in migration space and to see how potential differences are negotiated i.e. whether identities and practices become more democratized and liberal and/ or whether conservative constructions are reinforced and how these constructions subsequently ‘travel’ in transnational contexts.

This session encourages papers that focus on sexualities in migration space and especially pluralities/ varieties of sexualities including female and male heterosexualities, lesbian and gay sexualities, bisexualities and transsexualities. The presentations may include both empirical and theoretical explorations. Especially interesting would be considerations of how helpful feminist theory and queer theories have been for understanding processes of sexuality (re)construction in migration space. Moreover, discussions around empirical research i.e. focusing on how is sexuality researched in migration space, what aspects of sexuality are focused on, what theoretical frameworks are applied in such research, how such research may lead to extending and modifying existing theories and what are the potential obstacles to and limitations of such research will be welcomed.


Temporary labour migrations: The resurgence of guestworker programs

Due mainly to pressures of a globalized economy, governments as well as employers have been making use of seasonal/temporal workers from poorer foreign countries in several regions of the world. This tendency seems to be increasing in recent times in part because of the aging process of the national populations. Governments have followed different strategies, but in most cases they allow private recruiting companies to enroll foreign workers without further supervision. In a few cases, however, local regulation and/or bilateral agreements seem to mitigate some harsh situations for the workers. One objective of this panel is to examine different experiences in several regions of the world with the purpose of exploring the positive and negative human, social and economic consequences of the various policy approaches. Those who advocate these programs insist on the positive aspects of being a temporary regularized worker in a foreign country, while others insist on the higher human costs or emphasize the common belief that temporary programs lead to permanent migration flows.

Temporary labor migration has had different effects on the places of origin as well as on the places of destination, diverging (to a degree) from the effects of more permanent migration flows. These dimensions open an array of issues that go from integration-disintegration at home and abroad to specific issues of social and economic development.

This session will explore how these tendencies have been evolving in different regions of the world following rules and policies with important consequences for the workers involved.

Papers are welcome according to these general lines.


Undocumented immigrants and social justice

The forces contributing to contemporary migratory flows come into conflict with the respective publics of receiving nations and their states as the latter seek to limit and contain flows. States do so through policies which are by design exclusionary and rely on illiberal means to achieve these goals. The result in recent years has been the expansion of the number of those migrants who are classified by states as illegal or irregular migrants, a phenomenon that has accurately been described as a normal feature of the world’s major liberal democracies. This session seeks participants who intend to explore this phenomenon from a variety of angles, including examining public opinion and state policies, as well as from the perspective of immigrants themselves who learn to live with the uncertainties of their status and immigrant rights advocates who rely on international human rights conventions and often on religion to critique current state practices in order to promote social justice for undocumented immigrants.




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International Sociological Association
November 2012