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Theorizing the Evolution of European Migration Systems

Project Summary

THEMIS is a four-year project (2010–2013) looking at the way in which patterns of migration to Europe develop. The project focuses on the conditions that encourage initial moves to become established migration systems. Based on field research, its aim is to bridge the theories on the initiation and continuation of migration, and to integrate the concept of agency in the systems theory approach to migration.

Project objectives: Advancing theory
The THEMIS project aims to step back and take a wider and more radical look at current thinking on migration dynamics.
It is a widely held view that migration patterns evolve following the trajectory illustrated below. Individuals start to move from one country to another, and over time, more people join them: once a critical mass is reached, that migration flow expands rapidly. But there is not enough evidence to back up this theory of migration dynamics. This is partly because studies to date have tended to focus either on the ‘root causes’ of migration or on the reasons why migration processes gain momentum and become established migration systems.

The THEMIS project has therefore been set up to try and link these two strands of research. The international project team are carrying out a thorough investigation into what makes people decide to migrate, why some of those initial moves to Europe result in the formation of significant migration systems, and why some migration processes simply tail off or stagnate.

Researchers aim to review, expand and integrate theories on the initiation and continuation of migration based on a comparative study of how diverse migrant groups evolve. The team are following different migration trajectories from several regions within each of three origin countries to specific locations in each of the THEMIS destination countries: the UK, Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Project timeline:

  • Phase 1: Scoping studies in destination countries [completed September 2010]
  • Phase 2: Semi-structured interviews in destination countries [fieldwork completed, followed by data coding and analysis]
  • Phase 3: Semi-structured interviews in origin countries [from July 2011]
  • Phase 4: Surveys in destination and origin countries [from January 2012]
  • Hypotheses testing, analysis and synthesis: The team are analyse the gathered THEMIS qualitative and quantitative data and testing the hypotheses derived from the initial theoretical synthesis.
  • A THEMIS international conference "Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond", Oxford University, 24-26 September 2013, will reflect on findings. This will all feed back into the theoretical framework and lead to the formulation of an improved migration systems theory.

For more information please see the THEMIS web-pages at:
http://www.imi.ox.ac.uk/projects/themis

For information specifically about our 24-26 September 2013 Oxford University conference "Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond" please click here.

Project Personnel

Participants Name Institution Country
Principal Investigator Oliver Bakewell University of Oxford United Kingdom
Co-Applicant Cindy Horst International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) Norway
Co-Applicant Godfried Engbersen Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands
Co-Applicant Maria Lucinda Fonseca Faculty of Letters of Lisbon University (FLUL) Portugal
Team Member Hein de Haas University of Oxford United Kingdom
Team Member Agnieszka Kubal University of Oxford United Kingdom
Team Member Jørgen Carling Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Norway
Team Member Rojan Ezzati Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Norway
Team Member Kate Prudden International Migration Institute, University of Oxford United Kingdom
Team Member Sonia Pereira University of Lisbon Portugal
Team Member Jennifer McGarrigle University of Lisbon Portugal
Team Member Alina Esteves University of Lisbon Portugal
Team Member Stephen Castles The University of Sydney United Kingdom
Team Member Sanne van de Pol Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands
Team Member Rianne Dekker Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands
Team Member Erik Snel Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands
Team Member Masja van Meeteren Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands
Team Member Dominique Jolivet University of Oxford UK
Team Member Jennifer Wu Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Norway
Team Member Marije Faber Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands
Team Member Dora Sampaio University of Lisbon Portugal
Team Member Rui Carvalho University of Lisbon Portugal
Team Member Juliana Iorio University of Lisbon Portugal

 

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