Handbook of Research Methods in Migration
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Handbook of Research Methods in Migration

Edited by Carlos Vargas-Silva

Covering both qualitative and quantitative topics, the expert contributors in this Handbook explore fundamental issues of scientific logic, methodology and methods, through to practical applications of different techniques and approaches in migration research.
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Chapter 21: Ethical Challenges in Research with Vulnerable Migrants

Ilse Van Liempt and Veronika Bilger


Ilse van Liempt and Veronika Bilger In this chapter we present some of the challenges and issues that resulted out of several research projects involving migrants in vulnerable situations. We believe that the ‘lessons learned’ are suited to contribute to the design of new research that will have to deal with similar challenges. Over the last decade international migration has become much more complex than in previous years. It is no longer predominantly a movement between selected states, like, for example, during the guest worker period, but is becoming increasingly global and complex. More persons from more diverse countries of origin migrate over longer distances, in a shorter period of time and with more interruptions along the route. At the same time, and accompanied by increasingly restrictive approaches towards specific forms of immigration, a clear trend emerges towards a selective approach towards international migration. States seek to promote ‘desirable’ migration and to reduce what is considered ‘unwanted’ migration. This approach is reflected in restrictive measures in regard to admission, residence, access to the labour market, social benefits and so on. The (unintended) consequences of these immigration policies are reflected in a considerable increase in irregular migration in the last decades (Arango, 2000; Castles and Miller, 2003) and an increasing number of migrants in precarious situations connected to illegal residence, exploitative labour conditions, social and economic marginalisation and so on.1 These changes in migration processes have resulted in the emergence of important new fields for the study of migration in the...

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