Edited by Carlos Vargas-Silva
Chapter 5: Contemporary Migration Seen from the Perspective of Political Economy: Theoretical and Methodological Elements
Raúl Delgado Wise and Humberto Márquez Covarrubias Contemporary migration studies tend to consider this phenomenon as an independent variable excised from the context of global capitalism. Research approaches are mostly descriptive and schematic and often split by disciplines, all of which limits the understanding of migration and any opportunities we might have to influence it. Political economy provides an analytical alternative with which to engage this subject, addressing it from the historical, structural and strategic viewpoints. This approach constitutes a source of critical thinking through which the complex reality of contemporary capitalism and the role of international migration can be understood and transformed. This chapter proposes political economy as an alternative theoretical and methodological tool with which to uncover the nature and elements of contemporary migration. 5.1 THE FOUNDATIONS AND VALIDITY OF POLITICAL ECONOMY Political economy studies the social relations present in production, distribution, exchange and consumption processes. They are meant to cover material living needs in accordance with the extant degree of productive development and in interaction with existing institutions and power relations. The relationship between the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, and the proletariat, a workforce deprived of means of production or subsistence, is of peculiar importance, although landowners, the peasantry and other subaltern social classes also play a role. In the words of Engels: ‘economics is not concerned with things but with relations between persons, and in the final analysis between classes; these relations however are always bound to things and appear as...
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