Migration in Britain

Migration in Britain

Paradoxes of the Present, Prospects for the Future

Tony Fielding

Migration in Britain takes a fresh look at the patterns of migration at both the regional and local levels and develops new theoretical frameworks and novel methods to explain these patterns. It anticipates British society and its internal migration flows fifty years hence in the absence of climate change, and comes to judgments about how and in what ways these migration flows might be affected by climate change.

Chapter 7: The Decision to Migrate

Tony Fielding

Subjects: development studies, migration, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


7.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter focuses on the individual migrant/non-migrant to explore the bases on which decisions to leave or to stay are made. It can reasonably be inferred from what has been written above, that personal traits such as ambition, self-confidence and courage, personal relationship success and failure, as well as personal resources (social capital) such as good knowledge of other places, and close friends and family members in other places, can greatly influence the decision to migrate. 7.2 MIGRATION AS A LEARNED BEHAVIOUR In addition, however, migration decisions have both their own dynamism and their own rather specific contexts. A good example of the former is the strong tendency for migration to be a learned behaviour (Cairns and Smyth, 2009). By this is meant that having migrated once, it is much easier to migrate again; typically, the fear of unknown places and people is reduced, the confidence that one can cope with the psychological stresses of migration has been enhanced and experience of the practical aspects of migration, such as getting a new job and selling a house, has been gained. So linked is one migration decision to others, and so important is this in determining life chances, outlook and status that some social scientists (notably Manuel Castells; see, in particular, Castells, 1993) regard the fundamental division of contemporary society as being that between ‘cosmopolitans’ and ‘locals’, where the former have life-paths that connect them to many distant places, while the latter live out their lives in just one...

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