Migration and Community Formation under Conditions of Globalization



This article sets out to rethink the dynamics of the migratory process under conditions of globalization. Two main models of migration and incorporation dominated academic and policy approaches in the late twentieth century: first, the settler model, according to which immigrants gradually integrated into economic and social relations, re-united or formed families and eventually became assimilated into the host society (sometimes over two or three generations); second, the temporary migration model, according to which migrant workers stayed in the host country for a limited period, and maintained their affiliation with their country of origin. Globalization, defined as a proliferation of cross-border flows and transnational networks, has changed the context for migration. New technologies of communication and transport allow frequent and multi-directional flows of people, ideas and cultural symbols. The erosion of nation-state sovereignty and autonomy weakens systems of border-control and migrant assimilation. The result is the transformation of the material and cultural practices associated with migration and community formation, and the blurring of boundaries between different categories of migrants. These trends will be illustrated through case-studies of a number of Asian and European immigration countries. It is important to re-think our understanding of the migratory process, to understand new forms of mobility and incorporation, particularly the emergence of transnational communities, multiple identities and multi-layered citizenship.