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2.1 Migration: reasons, processes, challenges

A key text on migration is that written by Castles and Miller (2009), who claim that:
.. movements take many forms: people migrate as manual workers, highly qualified specialists, entrepreneurs, refugees or as family members of previous migrants. Class plays an important role: destination countries compete to attract the highly skilled through privileged rules on entry and residence, while manual workers and refugees often experience exclusion and discrimination

Castles and Miller (2009) further claim that international movements of people are currently growing in volume in all major regions of the world, with more and more countries being affected by migratory movements. The consequences of increased migration include growing ethnic and cultural diversity in countries of immigration and a tendency towards more stringent regulation of migration in receiving countries.

Push-pull theories of migration argue that people are ‘pushed’ to leave their home countries in search of a better life in, usually, in a more developed country; they are ‘pulled’ by the attraction of factors like work, better pay and living conditions. Migration often occurs when there are existing links between sending and receiving countries, for example, a history of colonization, trade, or cultural ties (Castles and Miller, 2009). Networks of family and friends are also important when making decisions concerning migration – they are also important in terms of settling in a host country. Castles and Miller (2009) argue that gradual acceptance of cultural diversity in host countries may lead to the development of ethnic communities, whereas rejection of cultural diversity may lead to the formation of ethnic minorities. Refugees and asylum seekers face particular challenges as they have been forced to leave their home countries; their migration is not voluntary. Beiser (1991) concludes that migration is a risk factor for developing mental health problems but mental ill-health is not inevitable. Despite traumatic experiences and difficulties related to resettling in a strange culture, most refugees are resilient and both adapt and contribute to their new society (Beiser, 1991). Refugees and asylum seekers are able to surmount many obstacles and overcome much adversity when fleeing their home countries and arriving in countries of asylum and it would be inappropriate to view them as helpless survivors (Karmi, 1998). Ager (1999) urges an appreciation of the considerable resources that refugees and asylum seekers demonstrate in responding to the challenges of forced migration.

Read more on patterns of international migration. The following web-sites are useful:

International Organisation of

European Council on Refugees and Exiles:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:

In the United Kingdom, information on migration can be obtained from:

UK Border Agency:

Immigration and Nationality Directorate:


Ager, A. (1999) Perspectives on the refugee experience. IN A. Ager (Ed.) Refugees. Perspectives on the experience of forced migration. London: Cassell

Beiser, M. (1991) The mental health of refugees in resettlement countries. IN H. Adelman (Ed.) Refugee Policy: Canada and the United States. Toronto: York Lanes Press

Castles, S. and Miller, M. J. (2009) The age of migration. International population movements in the modern world. (Fourth Edition. Revised and Updated). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Karmi, G. (1998) Refugees. IN S. Rawaf and V. Bahl (Eds.) Assessing health needs of people from minority ethnic groups. London: Royal College of Physicians in London

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