Lecture 1 (spring semester). Globalization theory: a sceptical introduction


I’m Dr. Matt Merefield, a historico-political sociologist working on trans-national migration and im/mobility, drawing on historical materialist and intersectional approaches.

I’d like to start by sharing a brief transnational autobiography with you, reflecting on my situation as a subject/citizen, imbued with particular attributes of class, gender, ethnicity, nationality and “race” [video1]

This course takes a historico-political sociological and intersectional approach to understanding trans-nationalism mobility and immobility, and the relationships between the two. Thus the course uses the hyphenated term “im/mobility”.

The course is primarily concern with the im/mobility of people. We examine how  im/mobility involves physical, social, and economic mobility for some, while others have their mobility restricted, are rendered immobile or, alternatively, are unable to stay (as is the case, for example, for refugees, and also for ). The course also examines contests over the desire (or ‘right’) to stay, and the conflicting relationships given to place by, for example Indigenous people and settlers, or elite and precarious residents in “global” or “world” cities such as London, Beijing and Sydney.

The course examines stratifications of im/mobility through the lens of people movements and stasis. In examining relationships between mobility an stasis we seek to understand how the mobility of some, for example, elite migrants, relates to the immobility of others such as precariously employed workers, or asylum seekers in camps and detention centres. Conversely, how does privileged stasis among elite groups related to coerced and forced mobility and ‘dis-habitation’ among precariat groups?

The course posits that the migration and stasis of people needs to be understood in relation to other kinds of im/mobilities including, for example, those of finance, economic, socio-cultural and political capital, goods and information. Accordingly our approach employs configurations of social, cultural, economic and political analysis that differ in terms of the balance between them in relation to the specific empirical matters being engaged with.

In the first semester we focus on people movements and use an intersectional approach to consider how categories such as class, gender, ethnicity, faith, nationality and “race” stratify people in terms of trans-nationalism, globalisation, mobility and migration.

In the second semester we focus on immobilities, reactions to trans-national mobilities and relationships between the two. Between the two semesters we aim to examine ways in which increasing connectedness is met with new and diverse forms of bordering and contest.

Some Key Globalization and “New Mobilities” concepts

This is not a course on globalization, nor does it follow the anti-materialist approach of the “New Mobilities” school (Urry, 2004; Cresswell et al, 2006). However in this and the third lecture we’re going to start by looking at key concepts of globalization, the sociological shift from the nation-state to the international, transnational and global, and “New Mobilities” as they have operated as nascent paradigm for understanding mobilities and immobilities in recent sociology.

Keep in mind the following questions:

  • What is the idea of globalization?
  • Is it a useful paradigm for understanding relationships between the infra, inter and transnational mobility dynamics?
  • Does a focus on flows and networks negate the importance of political and economic structure and relationship to place?

Sociology shifts from national to global and mobility paradigms

Let’s briefly map some of the developments in sociology that led up to the globalisation scholarship that began around the late 1980s.

Sociology early-mid 20th Century: bound to the national  context

Early sociological thinkers (Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Comte, Spencer) were internationalist


  • Anthropologists focused on difference rather than commonality (often in an ‘Orientalist mode)
  • early to mid 20th century sociologists nation-focused, at a time of xenophobia, racial and ethno-nationalism (WWI)
  • Internationalism left to radical movements
  • English Sociologists focused on domestic social issues; the Great Depression; men at war, women in the workforce

Post 1945 transformations in sociology

  • US post war dominance
  • Imperial decline, de colonization, i.e, India, 1947…Indonesia 1949, Algeria, 1962
  • Proliferation of new state actors,
  • Cold War fought in other states
  • Universal Rights discourse and institutions
  • Decentred area/postcolonial studies; Cardosa, Alavi, Amin, Fanon, Patterson, rediscovery of De Bois
  • Civil rights, anti-racism

Internationalist sociology

Dependency theory Andre Gunder Frank

‘Modernization’ Talcott Parsons

‘Third World’ Peter Worsley

  • Shift from comparative internationalist thinking to thinking in terms of global processes and dynamics
  • Partial shift from the nation-state as the unit of analysis to interpenetration between states:
  • differentiate between different groups within states and their relation to corresponding groups in other states
  • Travel, Migration, Financial flows, Cultures in common

Thinking globally:  World Systems

  • Capitalist trade networks across nations more important than static political structures (states)
  • Core, semi-periphery, periphery bound together through transnational trade & competition
  • Logic of Accumulation dominates:
  • System expansive and self-protecting; tends to entrench advantage
  • Politically pluralist; economically unifying; socially divisive
  • World systems: Capitalism progressively ties more and more societies into the global market
  • System tends to maximise comparative advantage through adaption of labour & market relations
  • Criticisms: underplays importance of political and state structures (incl. state driven technological & commercial developments), colonial conquest and pathways

Globalization = the increasing interconnectedness of the world

Through greater movement and flows of people, finance, objects, information and ideas

  ….  across space ….

                                  and at a faster speed than in previous eras ….

“Compression of the world” bringing the far apart and different together” (Robertson, 1992:8)


How are the global and local connected? Held et al. distinguish between flows and networks.

Flows = movements of things, people, symbols, tokens and information across space

Networks = regularised or patterned interacts

Networks include those of communication and information technology, and interpersonal networks involving individuals and groups (Singh Grewal 2008).

The concept of globalization includes the supposition that an increasing number of social structures (e.g. states, cities, law) and social institutions (the family, religion, sport) are interconnected 21

Amin (2002: 395) argues, global networks allow innumerable business, cultural, migrant, political, criminal and other agents to ‘make space’ work for them by connecting and energizing their previously separate practices.

According to Castells (1996: 470), by the 1990s networks dependent on IT become the most dynamic and appropriate vehicles through which to deal with virtually all kinds of global activity, Cohen, Kennedy (Page 37).

Paul Ritzer (2010: 14) emphasizes the role of information technology.

Digital networks provide the technological infrastructure for the emergence of contemporary network-based social forms … enhancing the speed, flexibility, and global reach of information flows, allowing for communication at a distance in real time, … allowing communities to sustain interactions across vast distances.

People involved in networks can communicate all sorts of information to one another in various ways – telephone calls, snail-mail, e-mail, blogs, social networking sites, and so on. These networks have revolutionized and greatly expanded the global flow of information. As with all other structures, such networks can be blocked (or ‘bordered’) d in various ways (e.g. the “Great Firewall”).

Global Cities

The local and the global are also connected, or relayed through centrifugal nodes called “global” or “world” cities whose networks transcend and remodel that nation-state.

Global (Sassen 1991, 2013) and world cities (Derudder et al. 2012)  are increasingly interconnected with one another directly rather than through the nation-states in which they happen to exist. The financial markets of the world cities of New York, London, and Tokyo are tightly linked with the result that all sorts of financial products flow among them and at lightning speed ( Ritzer and Dean,  14).

Deterritorialization, supraterritorialization, and aterritoriality

A key aspect of globalization theory in relation to im/mobilities is the idea that the nation-state and its territory are being transgressed, or ‘debordered’ by globalizing flows (including the movement of people).

In globalization theories, frameworks for understanding, action and relationships shift beyond the local and national bordered territory  (Robertson, 1992:8).

Scholte (2005) originally used the term ‘deterritorialization” as the central feature of globalization. However, he came to think that the term exaggerated the extent to which the territorial (i.e., that  which is bounded within the nation state) had been overcome and re-developed his concept as “supraterritorialization”.

Supraterritoriality refers to a form of (re-)spatialization in which social space
is not confined by territory, distance or time.

Supraterritorialization is more than just transplanetary connection. It involves breaks with territorialist geography.

Supraterritorial relations involve not just an intensification of links across the world but different types of global connectivity. This intensification of links across boundaries also involves the decline of those boundaries. Links transcend and detach from territory. (Martell, 8/277)

Supraterritorialial linkages are more than just Time space Compression (David Harvey 1989), the shrinking of space, and the reduction of the time required by a wide range of processes, brought about by changes in transportation and communication technologies advanced mainly by capitalist corporations (Ritzer & Dean, 2012:238).

Compression is the intensification of links and relations. Scholte argues that Supraterritorialism involves new kinds of relations that transcend the bordered territory of the nation state.

These links involve simultaneity and instantaneity. Examples include telecommunications; global media; finance; migration; the internet; ecological problems; global consciousness.

Supre/de-territorialised nation states

The deterritorialising aspects of mobility problematise static concepts of the state, sovereignty, citizenship and subjectivity. The state is thought to have had its sovereignty diminished as global economic actors became powerful enough to dictate the forms of political economy required of nation-states. Evans (2009) focuses on the ways in which neoliberal globalization has weakened state interest in and capacity to implement national social policy. Actors such as the IMF have a strong influence over national government, including the extent of the welfare state. Conversely, states are not necessarily passive recipients but have, to differing degrees, the capacity to actively position themselves in accordance with the requirements of the global economy (Dadush and Shaw: 2012) Sassen (2006)
emphasized the role that state actions played in contributing to the
development of globalization.

Qualified critique of the territorial

Scholte’s supranationalism is qualified by the acknowledgement that the territorial remains important, especially in some areas: production, governance, ecology and,
allegiance. Global liquidity and flows are not assumed to be unhindered.

Held et al make a similar qualification in their concept of globalization as aterritorial. By this they mean it make involve activities that go beyond being coterminious with territories (activities that are deterritorialising), but also involve reterritorialization, involving globalization being established in regions and subnational areas, as well as encouraging, in some instances, nationalism (Held et al, Martell 10/277).

While claiming that global supraterritoriality is new,  Scholte conceded that  territories and borders remain important. Sceptics argue that it is hard to see how the examples he uses are anymore more than instances of transplanetary connections, and that his examples are better described as instances of liberalisation, internationalisation and westernisation (all dynamics predating globalization).

In terms of people movements, supraterritoriality (the global transformation of bordered territoriality) doesn’t appear to be empirically valid. If it were, there should be forms of borderless travel and migration on a global scale. Instead we have contested forms of movement within regional, international and national regulation, in combination with a minor degree of elite transnationalism (i.e, financial services, investment migration).

For Neil Brenner (1999) argued, globalization, to the degree that it consists of deterritorialisation – the increase in the intensity of the trans-bordered flows of processes such as capital, information, and communication which lend themselves to immediacy – is premised upon processes of re-territorialisation that facilitate these flows, wherein space is regulated in order to enable these temporal flows.

Re and de-territorialized spatio-temporalities – for example – those of the privileging (through, for example, the transnational architecture of financial deregulation) of global cities and their concentric maps of production – also work to re-border the global process of production Subsequently, as Gidwani and Sivaramakrishnan (200) observe, the compression of spatio-temporality is matched by its expansion, ‘with the result that some cities, countries and regions have become increasingly disassociated and marginalised’.

Globalism and Cosmopolitanism

One of the key ways globalization theorists think of interconnectedness is ideational and normative. Many globalization theorists have a committment to cosmopolitanism (see, for example, Archibugi and Held, 1995; Held, 1995; Archibugi, 2004). This involves the development of what is sometimes called global consciousness. Issues are seen as affecting people globally and as needing a global response rather than national responses. Human rights, war, ecological problems, drugs, crime, economic instability, inequality are some of the issues that cosmpolitans view as requiring a global response. For this, they turn to global fora and international interventions, based on cooperation grounded by a cosmopolitan consciousness.Other globalization theorists who see global consciousness as akey element of globalization include Robertson, Water (2001), and Holton (2005).

Global consciousness is thought to be developing in relation to shared opportunities and risks and opportunities:

Age of global Opportunity

  • New conditions of openess and democratic possibility (Robertson 1992, Albrow 1996)
  • Global crisis requires and therefore enables global cooperation (states cannot act alone)

e.g. global warming, refugees, tax regulation

  • Cohen & Kennedy (2012:10) suggest shared experience of global crisis enables fraternity between wealthy elites and poor

Age of Uncertainty: Global risks

“Global postmodernity” (Stuart Hall, 1992)

  • Uneven development and economic crisis = global uncertainty & insecurity:
  • stable lifetime employment replaced by casualisation, low incomes, lack of meaning & camaraderie

“Risk Society” (Ulrich Beck, 1992)

  • Societies united beyond borders by manufactured risk

e.g., man-made environmental risks: carbon consumption, nuclear power, deforestation

  • Blurring of boundaries between us/them (i.e., race, nation, gender)
  • Insecurity of meaning making and identity; age of anxiety
  • limited sovereignty and control of borders because of ‘global’ migration flows; diminished citizenship rights vis-a-vis cheap labour migration and welfare migration

Sociological approaches to the Globalization paradigm

  • Hyperglobalists; globalization as a new era in history, borderless world
  • Skeptics; globalization is not new; the extent of globalization overstated
  • Transformationalists; acknowledge criticism of skeptics, however, see globalization as the central driving force reshaping modern societies (Held et al, 1999)

Hyperglobalists and the supposed demise of the nation-state

Hyperglobalists argue that:

  • The global marketplace has increased in the last three decades and continues to increase
  • Globalization transcends national borders
  • Era of the nation state is over

With increasing economic globalization, transnational governance organizations and corporations = increasingly important.

  • National governments lose influence, forced to operate increasingly according to rules they do not create.
  • Demise of the welfare state?
  • Demise of sovereignty/ability to ‘protect’ borders?

Hyperglobalist perspective as an approach which sees globalization as a new epoch in human history. This new epoch is characterized by the declining relevance and authority of nation-states, brought about largely through the economic logic of a global market. Economies are becoming “denationalized.”

The spread liberal democracy will extend the global reach of more universal principles of economic and political organization. A truly global civilization will become possible.

Conflicting forms of hyperglobalism

Neo-liberal versus neo-Marxist orientations

  • Neo-liberals view globalization as largely a good thing (despite the risks it engenders), part of progress towards global civilization. They say that nearly all countries have a comparative advantage in one way or another. Some groups who will be worse off, but on the whole, the benefits are greater than in the past, and the advantages will ‘trickle down’.
  • Neo-Marxist: Global capitalism will only create and reinforce inequalities within and between countries.

Globalization Transformationalists

  • There is no single cause (the market or economic logic) behind globalization
  • The outcome of processes of globalization is not determined
  • While agreeing with some of the sceptics’ criticisms of the concept of globalization (and particularly hyperglobalization and the claim that the nation state has been deterritorialised) they argue that there is actually a process of transformation occuring involving some degree of globalization.

Critiques of transformationalist concepts of globalization.

The transformationalist approach doesn’t really take the concept of globalization further than the sceptics’ position. While some of the dynamic concepts such as networks and flows are empirically valid, they do not need to be anchored to the concept of globalization and its transcending of nation-state territoriality. Nation-states have been and are themselves transforming in relation to the transnational economy, but this may be better thought of in terms of the contemporary stages of capitalism. That is precsely the framework transformationalists wish to avoid, in line with their commitments to the cultural turn in sociology, and refutation of historical materialism. They therefore tie themselves in knots trying to save the concept of globalization despite agreeing with most of the criticisms of the concept raised by sceptics.

Historical materialist (“social”) transformationalists

Key migration theorists in the historical materialist tradition sometimes equate ‘globalization with neoliberalism”. Stephen Castles (2008), for example, a dominant political describes contradiction between the national principle upon which the sovereignty of states is founded, and the transnational principle of global mobility driven by  neoliberal principles of a ‘small state’, privatisation of utilities and services, economic deregulation and the opening of markets (especially those of developing countries) to global competition. Defining his approach in terms of “social transformations”, Castles analyses globalization and national sovereignty as undergoing complex transformations, as do the Weberian transformationalists. However, unlike Held et al., Castles positions its complexity in terms of the working of the global political economy.

Sceptics: national, inter, multi and tranationalism, not globalization

Sceptics doubt that what is called “globalization” is anything more than internationalism. Many multinational business flows, for example, are rooted in the company’s country of origin and involve trade relations between particular countries not relations of a global reach.

They also question whether things that are described as being global in reach are not actually limited by inequality, conflict and exclusion, and therefore less than global.

Some argue that internationalism was more intense in previous eras (particularly the belle epoque 1890-1914) and that without its claim of newness based on unprecedented connectedness, the concept of globalization fails.

Skeptics have been especially critical of the idea of deterritorialization, arguing that the national context remains important and that the role of the nation state has not been superceded by forms of global governance even if it has been limited to some extent by some forms of global and regional governance, or by neoliberalism. Even then, the nation state is an active participant in international and transnational dynamics, not a passive recipient.

Sociologist Smitha Radhakrishnan argues for the use of transnationalism as a scale of analysis (we will discuss her work later in the semester when looking at elite migration). Radhakrishnan argues that the academic concept of the global is vague, refers to multiple things, and follows Manuel Castell’s and others in seeing the concept as defining nothing more than “a realm of interaction that is counterposed with the “local”. When the concept is applied to empirical contexts, it becomes difficult to designate which practices are produced in the local and which are produced in the global because the global has been shown to always take place in the local (Burawoy et al, 2000; Hart, 2002).

Sociology, as we noted above, was traditionally bound by the nation state. Class, for example, was theorized as stratfication, division and conflict in the context of national economies and societies (Bourdieu 1984; 1995; Weber, 1978; Marx). Those nation states were often implicity theorised as unitary actors within a global political economy. Marxist system theory maintained the notion of class competition as internal to the nation state.

More recently, theorists have anaysed class divisions across rather than (just) between nation states. Aihwa Ong (1999) and Leslie Sklair (2001) examined the practices of elite business people controlling capital across national boundaries. Ong’s (1999) ‘flexible citizenship’ describes a resourcing process in which travelling or displaced subjects to respond fluidly and opportunistically to changing political-economic conditions within the  cultural logic of capitalist accumulation. For Ong, it is access to resources and resourcefulness rather than mobility that is the issue (Skeggs, 51).

For Radhakrishnan, “transnationalism” can be used to examine “the connections and relationships between different places” (Levitt and Khagram 2008; Mitchell 2002; Yeoh, Willis and Fakhri 2003). The term allows us to maintain a focus on the national while examining the ways in which it is transgressed.

Useful concepts but not a paradigm

That the global is not a useful academic concept for the scale of analysis does not mean that its popular uses are not of interest, nor that its array of associated concepts are not important. The use of the global as an idea of cosmopolitanism, or the transgression of national boundaries or borders is central to many studies of mobility, including, for example Radhakhrishnan’s own study of elite Indian labour mobility.


Martell, Luke, (2017), Introduction: Concepts of Globalization, The Sociology of Globalization. Wiley.(Ch. 1-2)

Kennedy, P (2010) Local Lives and Global Transformations: Towards World Society,

Castles, S. (2008) Migration and Social Transformation, Migration Studies Unit Working Paper, No. 2008/1, LSE.

Cohen, R. and Kennedy, P. (2013) Global Sociology, 3rd Edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan, Held et al, (1999) Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture (Ch. 1)

Hall, S. & Gieben, B. eds., (1992) Formations of Modernity, Cambridge, Open University Press(Ch. 6)

Beck, U. (1992) The Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, London, Sage

Dadush, U. and W. Shaw (2012) ‘Is the Labour Market Global?’, Current History,
111 (741), 9–13.

Evans, P. (2009) ‘Is an Alternative Globalization Possible?’, Politics and Society,
36 (2), 271–305

Harvey, D (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Oxford: Blackwell.

Scholte (2005) Globalization: A Critical Introduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Radhakrishnan, S. Appropriately Indian: Gender and Culture in a New Transnational Class, Duke University Press

Roudometof, V. (2016) Glocalization: A Critical Introduction, London & New York, Routledge

Sassen, S. (2006) Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

Holton, R. J. Global Networks. London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Cohen, R and Van Hear, N. (2008) Global Diasporas: An Introduction, Abingdon, Oxon. And New York, Routledge

Chua, A (2004) World on Fire: How Exporting Free-Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, London, Arrow Books

Albrow, M.(1996) The Global Age, Cambridge, Polity

Robertson, R. (1992) Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, London, Sage.

Ritzer, G., Dean, P. Globalization: A Basic Text

Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society, vol. 1, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Oxford: Blackwell (rev. edn 2000).

Urry, J (2000) Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-first Century, London: Routledge.

Urry, J (2003) Global Complexity, Cambridge: Polity.


Lecture 2 (spring semester). Trans/national political economy: viewing inequality through an intersectional lens



  • How does trans/national inequality work through combinations of different categories?
  • Matrix of domination (Professor Hill Collins)
  • Transnational garment industry, intersectional exploitation, forms of intersectional resistance

Some key categories of intersection

Age, caste, class, disability, ethnicity, faith, nationality, “race”, sexuality

What is intersectionality?

  • Intersectionality is a way of understanding and analyzing the complexity in the world, in people, and in human experiences. The events and conditions of social and political life and the self can seldom be understood as shaped by one factor.
  • They are generally shaped by many factors in diverse and mutually influencing ways.
    • major axes of social divisions in a given society at a given time,
    • for example, race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, and age operate not as discrete and mutually exclusive entities,
    • but build on each other and work together. Hill Collins and Bilge, (2016:4)

Analysing inequalities requires intersectionality?

..economic inequality does not fall equally on everyone. Rather than seeing people as a homogeneous, undifferentiated mass, intersectionality provides a framework for explaining how social divisions of race, gender, age, and citizenship status, among others, positions people differently in the world, especially in relation to global social inequality. Hill Collins and Bilge, (2016:15)

The place of class in intersectional analysis

.. when formulating class inequality one should have race and gender in view as well. Capital is intersectional. It always intersects with the bodies that produce the labor. Therefore, the accumulation of wealth is embedded in the racialised and engendered structures that embody it (Eisenstein, 2014, in Hill Collins and Bilge, 2016:16)

  • Using intersectionality as an analytic tool encourages us to move beyond seeing social inequality through race-only or class-only lenses. … of social inequality based on interactions among various categories. Hill Collins and Bilge, 2016:26
  • For Hill Collins (1997), Intersectionality works with a ‘working hypothesis’ of equivalence between oppressions’. For Nancy Fraser (1995) , however, the relative importance of different oppressions is historically contingent on the particular context and power relations. No aspect should be neglected, but one or more aspect may have particular importance in certain situations.

While focussing on key intersections such as gender and ‘race’, much of the scholarship employing an intersectional approach elides or neglects the category of class (Mann, 2012: 112). This is sometimes because of the way that Marxist intersectionalists reduce other aspects of oppression to the dimension of class, in line with the tendency of some traditional versions of Marxism towards an overdetermining economism and neglect of categories such as gender and ‘race’, or subordination of such dimensions as aspects of class  (Bohrer, 2018: 49-50; Giminez, 2001 ;Smith and Smith, 1983:122; Alcoff, 2011; Gedalof, 2013).

Bohrer argues (2018), however, that an intersectional marxist approach is necessary to the study of inequality and oppression because of the context of capitalism and the distinctive place of ‘class’ as a dimension . Bohrer (54) follows Gimenez in arguing that “class oppression is distinctive and necessitates a different kind of treatment, politically and theoretically, than race and gender”. This differential treatment

requires a wholesale analysis of capitalism as a system and a structure of material
relations of production and reproduction, accumulation and dispossession,
which has its roots in political economy and effects in the multifaceted
realms of culture, ideology and politics (Bohrer, 54).

For Bohrer (2018), capitalism is the ‘matrix of domination’ capitalism, in which slavery, colonialism, patriarchy, white supremacy, were forms of race, class, gender and sexuality inseparable oppressions that were historically concreted in and through one another. Within this Marxist-intersectional analysis, capitalism is the synthesis of class, race, gender, sexuality, colonisation and imperialism systems of dispossession. Thus class cannot be considered the master-term of capitalist accumulation and antagonism, but merely one of the dimensions of oppression.

Class retains its distinctive analytical and historical importance in the shift from feudal social relations to wage labour Marx (1876) analysed, but is augmented by gendered and raced and postcolonial analysis.

Silvia Federici (2004), Maria Mies (1986) and many other Marxist feminists have shown the structual reliance of capitalism on what they called ‘social reproduction’ – the unwaged labour of cooking, cleaning, subsistence farming, bearing and rearing children, and multiple modes of affective and care work. This labour, undertaken primarily by women, allows the capitalist to glean the benefits of reproductive labour necessary for the waged worker to enter the formal economy without payingfor it; Mies termed it “super exploitation” and Frederici analysed it is a form of ongoing “primitive exploitation” .

Historical materialist feminists operate of form of stretching of Marxist analysis, pointing to the intersection of gender and class oppression. As we will see throughout the course, a historical materialist perspective is stretched across other forms of intersection. Anne McClintock (1995) and Maria Lugones (2003), for example,  stretch Marxist analysis to include patriarchy, white supremacy, colonisation (both direct and indirect) and heterosexualism.

Core ideas for intersectional analysis

  • For Hill Collins and Bilge, Intersectionality involves a commitment to examining how Power contributes Social Inequality in all of its Interconnected Complexity, paying careful attention to Specific social contexts in order to work towards Social justice

Power is relational (about interconnectedness)

Within intersectional frameworks, there is no pure racism, sexism or class-discrimination. Rather, power relations of racism and sexism gain meaning in relation to one another.

Example: chattel slavery = classed, raced and gendered discrimination

Intersectional matrix of domination (4 domains of power)

  • Structural

The institutional, organizational level

  • Disciplinary

The level of social rewards and punishments

  • Cultural

Power transmitted through ideas and media

  • Interpersonal

Power plays out in the realm of everyday interaction among people

Particular Social Contexts

  • Paying attention to the specific historical, intellectual, locational (space, place), cultures and political contexts grounds intersectional analysis
  • For example, ideas of “race”, and their relationship to class, and gender different depending on how they are specifically situated. (Cohen and Kennedy)

The worldwide garment industry through an intersectional lens

A trans/ational industry?

  • Let’s have a look at the clothing label for our shirts/tops
  • What countries are they produced in
  • Let’s record them on the board here:
  • We should see an indicate range of garment producing countries, and maybe some countries feature in particular
  • What does that tell us about the garment industry?

Historical context: The trans/national “race to the bottom”

  • Late 17th C + England industrial revolution via cotton textile factories & their technological advances
  • Global supplier of cotton 1800’s to 1930s
  • Key to British wealth in this period
  • Rural-to-urban migration for factory work: women from the rural areas; children from the poor houses (5years +)Factory owners preferred women and children to men:
    • Cheaper
    • More docile (prepared to accept drudgery and severe fatigue)
  • Copying British technology, American industrial revolution developed rapidly; by late 1800s the world’s largest mills in New England
  • By early 1900s US surpassed Britain in cloth production, taking much of the US, European and (eventually) Chinese market
  • factories reliant on rural-to-urban young female migrants (often children)Americans also preferred “docile’ workers who would accept very poor working conditions (70 hr weeks, 12 hr days, heat, short meal breaks)Discipline included Church attendance; “moral purity”; a condition of employment
  • Production moved to southern states (the Piedmont area, South Carolina) where there was much greater use of child labour and weaker regulation (so greater productivity, cheaper wages, worse conditions)
  • late 1920s, more than half of Japan’s industrial workers employed in textiles, which comprised two-thirds of the country’s exports.
  • By the mid-1930s, Japan would have approximately 40 percent of the world’s exports of cotton goods. textiles
  • Japanese leadership in the industry was based on low labor costs and poor working condition
  • wages for cotton mill workers in Japan were 20 to 47 percent lower than wages in the United States and England (Rivoli, 101-2)
  • Workers were young women escaping a life of subsistence agriculture in the countryside,
  • Again, preferred for their docility, cheapness, endurance of harsh conditions + ‘‘ night work,’’ which doubled productivity; 3-5 year contractual arrangement not unlike indentured servitude; young women shared not only beds, but even pajamas in crowded boardinghouses;  confined by fences topped with bamboo spears and barbed wire; Food was scant, sanitation was poor, and disease was widespread. (Rivoli, 102)
  • By mid 1970’s the “Asian tigers” Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan dominated textile & apparel industries
  • Industries drive by cheap and “docile” rural to urban female labour
  • Wages for textile workers in these countries were about 7 percent of the level in the United States and perhaps 15 percent of the level in Japan. Rivoli, (p. 104).
  • Then from the 1990’s China has been dominant, while smaller countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Romania have also established strengths
  • In China, also on the basis of rural-to-urban female migrant workers, and perhaps this will continue for longer (given the lare size of the cheap labour, and the state regulation restricting urban settlement (through the Hukou registration card system) Rivoli (109)

Historical political economy shifting regimes of garment industry

19th-century despotic regime:

 the factory overseer of the industrial revolution coerced labor from workers without any state intervention

= harshly exploitative working conditions not redressed by state regulation

20th-century hegemonic regime:

characterized by welfare policies and workplace protections.

Consent, rather than coercion, predominate…

since workers’ and capitalists’ interests are coordinated, providing a degree of worker autonomy that normalizes and obscures exploitation and dampens collective resistance. Plankey-Videla (introduction)

  • Under conditions of increased international competitiveness, Burawoy argues that capitalist firms will seek cheaper costs of production in new regions or countries.
  • Hegemonic despotism = “is the ‘rational’ tyranny of capital mobility over the collective worker. . . . The fear of being fired is replaced by the fear of capital flight, plant closure, transfer of operations, and plant disinvestment” (Burawoy, 1985, 150).
  • Capital’s hypermobility drives the “race to the bottom,” with falling wages and deteriorating working conditions.
  • Workers— who are generally not as mobile— are disciplined by an increasingly mobile employer that pits them in different locations against each other; this drives concession bargaining and undermines workers’ movements Plankey-Videla (introduction).

Garment industry built on intersectional and international exploitation

  • Built on exploitation on the basis of class, gender, age (children), location (rurality)
  • Vulnerable groups who may have little other viable alternatives, and may lack the power to resist exploitation
  • Arguably, this has been and remains the continued ideal wherever the “race to the bottom” has been won.

Let’s next have an intersectional look at one allegedly “docile” workforce in particular, drawing on Hill Collins and Bilge, Pietra Rivoli and Naila Kabeer’s 2002 chapter “Renegotiating Purdah: women workers’ labour market decisions in Dhaka”

An intersectional analysis of the transational garment industry, the Rana Plaza atrocity and resistance to labour exploitation

Rana Plaza fire & building collapse 2013

  • Rana Plaza located in Dhaka Bangladesh housed dozens of garment factories
  • The fire & building collapse caused the deaths of 1,129 workers, injuring another 2,500
  • Considered the deadliest garment industry incident
  • However, less deadly incidents are so common they often don’t make the news

Intersectional social context 2: political economy: place, space

The Rana Plaza collapse: significance of abysmal factory working conditions in Bangladesh and beyond

  • Neoliberal political economy of the garment industry
  • Intersectionality of disadvantage and exploitation
  • Relationality (interconnectedness) of resistance

Neoliberalism of global garment trade in Bangladesh

Garment industry = especially bad erosion of workers rights

Located in Bangladesh for cheap, abundant and seemingly obedient workers

Lax regulatory system: safety overlooked, low compliance with international labour standards

Consequentially: workers lack fair pay, job security, safety, and civil-political rights (ability to organise and protest)

Sociological questions: domains of power-relations in garment industry

Interpersonal domain

Which kinds of people become workers in the garment industry?

Disciplinary domain

How do managers, companies and states exploit and control workers?

Structural domain

What governs location of factories in particular countries?

Cultural domain

What are the social norms that send young women into factories?

What are the consumption cultures that neglect/normalize the conditions of work/production?

Intersectional analysis: multiply-disadvantaged workers

  • Highly feminised workforce
  • Use of child labor in some countries
  • Regime favours use of (rightless) undocumented migrant workers
  • Vulnerable to economic exploitation and physical and sexual abuse: poverty, illiteracy, gender, age, immigration status, “race”, caste, ethnicity
  • Lack of effective agency/rights in terms of labour conditions results in poor working conditions and low wages overdetermined by threat of factory relocation to cheaper more pliable workforce/location if this one becomes “less competitive” (hegemonic despotic regime)
  • Regime supported by consumer culture, desire for cheap and (newly) fashionable clothing in Western (+other) markets

Intersectional account of garment workers agency

Intersection axes of exploitation

  • So far we have focussed on accounts of how garment workers are/have been exploited in the axes of class, gender, age, location, migration status
  • We have found that the exploiters often value/d a combination of axes that resulted in greater vulnerability, powerlessness and therefore compliance with exploitation (the much desired “docile” work force)

Intersectional aspects of agency

Let’s have a look now at some of the ways that some garment workers might have exercised agency in their intersectional aspects

Garment workers motivations for and valuing of migration and work

  • Liberation from patriarchal norms/renegotiating gender relations
  • Self-development including education, leisure
  • Challenging urban/rural discriminatory culture
  • Greater income, ability to support family and self

Examples of agency in choice to/valuing of garment work

For Chinese garment workers and their “sisters in time”, factory work has provided:

  • a step up the economic ladder and an escape from the physical and mental drudgery of the farm;
  • a first taste of autonomy and self-determination,;
  • a set of choices made possible by a paycheck, however small; including
  • a choice to escape boredom, escape a betrothal or a domineering father, … the chance to choose their own clothing (Rivoli, 2015:112)

Bangladeshi  women choosing to work in the garment factories gained:

  • A step up the economic ladder for selves and family
  • degrees of autonomy, self-determination, self-development
  • Redressing patriarchal gender imbalance at home/in society while negotiating cultural/gender norms in transformed conditions (where some men cannot support families) Kabeer, N. (2002)

Constrained choices

  • The specific context is important: some garment workers might be regarded as being forced or coerced into factory work (by capitalist, gendered, religious oppressions) while others exercise some degree of freedom of choice
  • Decision making may involve a combination of all three (force, coercion, freedom)

Karl Marx’s (1852) idea suggests a mix of freedom and constraint:

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Karl Marx 1852

Bounded Rationality

When individuals make decisions, they do not do so under optimum conditions that allow them to be completely rational and able to fully weigh all the possible risks and rewards surrounding their decision and choice.

Constraints might include, for example:

  • time constraints;
  • a lack of information or misinformation about certain options; peer pressure;
  • lack of access to alternatives ….[people] make what may appear to them to be the best decision or choice given their circumstances at the time. Consequently, their decision making is bounded—constrained or restricted—by their social, physical, and situational contexts, and their perceptions of those contexts. The individual assessments of the costs, risks, and benefits involved are subjective, which is why … different women in the same circumstances might make different decisions Chin, K. (2012:63)

Docility” and resistance

  • The term “docile” actually disguises forceful relations
  • Pinkey-Videla describes the industrial revolution factories as exercising despotic power; this might be true also of the more recent and current Japanese, Chinese, US factories Rivoli discusses
  • Rivoli’s and Kabeer’s examples show that apparently “docile” workers were actually engaged in resistance against, for example, structural or cultural aspects of discrimination or exploitation, and/or expressing agency in terms of positive choices for selves/families

Resistance at Moctezuma garment factory 1

Plankey-Videla’s Questions

The women garment workers at Moctezuma knew that strike action was likely to result in loss of “race to bottom”, and therefore unemployment and poverty. Striking was not in their economic best interests?

So, why did they decide to strike?

What does this tell us, if anything, about an intersectional analysis?

(Plankey-Videla, 2012:396)

Political-economic context for strike decision

  • declining wages and benefits, management breach of their social pact with workers (sackings, low wages against previous agreement)
  • an oppressive feeling of continual supervision from coworkers and managers
  • threats of capital mobility to cheaper countries, media’s portrayal of globalization as a race to the bottom
  • increased opportunities to migrate to the United States, l
  • local democratization, and heightened awareness of collective resistance—
  • However, workers aware that the firm paid above-average wages and provided extensive benefits, which allowed them to fulfill their family responsibilities.
  • Motherist culture at factory, recognising women’s family responsibilities = consent (hegemonic despotic regime)They changed the rules to grant team members special permits to miss work to care for sick children or attend school and, in the process, built a collective identity as working mothers.They developed self-management teams in line with the motherist culture, developing leadership roles for (and antagonisms amongst) the women workersEnhanced autonomy of self-managed teams promoted solidarity rooted in women’s collective identity as mothers
  • Even single mothers who were the main or sole provider for their families saw their work as fulfilling the dutiful mother role. Thus women’s identities as primarily mothers meant most were loath to protest deteriorating work conditions because voicing their discontent could cost them their jobs.
  • Managers lamented the lost productivity from time given for family duties but supported the motherist culture because it achieved sufficient “docility” (compliance)
  • In line with Mexican traditions that exalted the values of motherhood = manufactured consent Plankey-Videla (2012:450-477)).

Subverting Motherist culture

Workers’ framed the strike as a defense of the most vulnerable workers— single mothers.

They used beliefs around motherhood to challenge the firm’s authority as benevolent patriarch.

While still identifying as mothers, they increasingly interpreted their interests as also class-based and antithetical to management’s interests. Plankey-Videla(481-514)

Transforming identities: mothers and workers who deserved jobs with dignity and living wages

Work became more than a way to support one’s family; it transformed into a source of newfound independence, authority, self-esteem, and meaning

So: intersectionally understood: the strike

= Contests over the value of female gender and working class

+ it also led to the striking garments workers’

alliances with actors resisting other axes of exploitation including broader class and political issues

Interconnected (g/local) resistance 1

Responding to the Rana Plaza atrocity also gave rise to g/local political action against bad factory conditions

Hill Collins & Bilge, (2016:1999)argue that global anti-sweatshop movements  draw on the intersectional analysis of garment industry exploitation and collaborate through global coalitions of workers right and Western consumer activists, using social media; Rana plaza led to an agreement among global and Bagladeshi unions for better working conditions and wages

  • Global anti-sweatshop movement faces intersectional complexity: it includes groups with different identities, interests and priorities
  • Intersectionality poses the questions of the kinds of analysis and political practice that might enable sufficient solidarity to serve the divergent interests of groups marked by different axes of inequality and aspects of power-relations
  • For Professor Hill Collins and Bilge, this points back to the structural over-determination of global capitalism, ideologies and policies of neoliberalism, and their configurations of social divisions and hierarchies based on class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, “race”, faith, disability, nation and location
  • Global anti-sweatshop movement faces intersectional complexity: it includes groups with different identities, interests and priorities
  • Intersectionality poses the questions of the kinds of analysis and political practice that might enable sufficient solidarity to serve the divergent interests of groups marked by different axes of inequality and aspects of power-relations
  • For Professor Hill Collins and Bilge, this points back to the structural over-determination of global capitalism, ideologies and policies of neoliberalism, and their configurations of social divisions and hierarchies based on class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, “race”, faith, disability, nation and location

Intersectional Sociological Resistance

  • Resistance within any specific matrix of domination – particularly the hegemonic and interpersonal structures – can occur when individuals pursue self-determining possibilities.
  • Individuals can: • interrogate themselves to understand their predicament, including how their actions oppress others
  • • deconstruct and deny the dominant values that define some people as inferior and less worthy than others
  • • reconstruct knowledge in dialogue with others embroiled in the same •
  • reflect on shared personal experiences and moral responsibilities towards both the self and others whom the same or different kinds of inequality oppress. Cohen and Kennedy (2012:167).


Bohrer, A. (2018), “Intersectionality and Marxism: A Critical Historiography”, Historical Materialism, 26/2, 46-74.

Cohen, R. and Kennedy, P (2013), “Race, ethnicity, and Intersectionality”, Chapter 9, Global Sociology, Palgrave Macmillan.

Federici, Silvia 2004, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive
Accumulation, New York: Autonomedia.

Hill Collins, P. and Bilge, S. (2016), Intersectionality, Polity.

Kabeer, N. (2002), “Renegotiating Purdah: women workers’ labour market decisions in Dhaka”, chp. 4, in The Power to Choose: Bangladeshi Women and Labour Market Decisions in London and Dhaka, London, Verso

Lugones, Maria (2003), Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition against Multiple Oppressions, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Marx, Karl 1967 [1876], Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, edited by Friedrich
Engels, New York: International Publishers.

McClintock, Anne (1995), Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial
Contest, New York: Routledge.

Mies, Maria (1986), Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the
International Division of Labour, First Edition, London: Zed Books.

Plankey-Videla, (2012), Introduction “We Are in this Dance Together”, in We Are in This Dance Together: Gender, Power, and Globalization at a Mexican Garment Firm, Rutgers University Press.

Rivoli, P. (2012), The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade. Wiley. Chapters Six, Seven.

Draft: Lecture 3 (spring semester). Trans/national im/mobilities



“New Mobilities”?

According to some globalization theorists: we are living in an age of increasing mobilities, and increasing connectedness and complexity

  • conveying material goods by sea, rail and air
  • individuals crossing borders as tourists, businesspeople, students or migrants
  • various political, business or scholarly elites between global cities

We might add Social mobilities; movements or stasis within the social hierarchy

New Mobility Vs. Structure

  • The new mobilities paradigm privileges systems of human transportation, migration and boundary transcendence as the defining feature of late modernity (Cresswell, 2006; Cresswell and Merriman, 2011; Hannam et al. 2006; Urry, 2004).
  • The flow of people across time and space; the identities, cultures and politics of migration; Diaspora; and transnationalism have become core concerns for sociologists working in this space (Blagg, 2016).
  • John Urry (2000) proposed ‘new rules of sociological method’ based on mobility. Urry (2007) argues that the twenty-first century be regarded as an era of
    fluidity and openness, in which changes in transportation, technology and culture are normalising people’s experience of thinking beyond borders along with crossing them frequently. Diverse forms of people mobility  including movements for purposes of study, professional advancement, marriage,
    retirement or lifestyle were assuming greater significance; correspondingly, older ideas migration were becoming less relevant.
  • Urry (2000:18) argued that Sociology needed to ‘develop through appropriate metaphors a sociology which focuses upon movement, mobility and contingent ordering, rather than upon stasis, structure and social order’ .
  •  Urry’s new mobility paradigm is deterritorial, based on the idea that we now live in a “post-societal” culture in which mobility is the determining feature that frames social relations, not structures or positions.He  suggested that ‘networks’, ‘fluids’, ‘flows’ and ‘mobilities’ were more useful than “‘society’, ‘structures’ and ‘institutions’, which conjure up images of territorial fixity…” (Urry; 2000, 2003; Cohen and Kennedy: 41).
  • It is also (relatively) free of stratification. Urry argued that mobility can be understood best in a horizontal rather than a vertical sense, thereby flattening out the differences (Skeggs,. 48).

Social Transformationalists

Stephen Castles critiques the idea of a shift from structures to flows, and correspondingly, from academic discourse centre on migration to the new discourse of mobilities. He argued that

The postmodern utopia of a borderless world of mobility has not yet dawned, so that it still seems appropriate to focus on migration as a process based on inequality and discrimination, and controlled and limited by states (2011:1567).

Mobility, Castles (2011: 1567) suggested, invoked movements of the highly
skilled professional mobility, celebrated because they represented the badge of a modern open society, whilewhile those of the lower-skilled were condemned as unwanted migration that ‘re-awakened archaic memories of invasion and displacement’. Castles followed Bauman (1998) in arguing that “the right to be mobile is more class-specific and selective than ever”. Rather than a world of unhindered flows, structure and agency remained crucially important, partially determining the contemporary stratifications enabled free mobility amongst elite groups while restricting the mobility of the poor.

 Im/mobility, agency, stratification

The ultimate issue is not who moves or is fixed, but who has control – not only over their mobility and connectivity, but also over their capacity to withdraw and disconnect. The point is that the poor have to put up with that from which others can move. (Skeggs,  50; Graham and Morley, 1998)

Bauman (1998:86) described the stratifications of postmodern consumer society in terms of freedom, or lack of freedom of mobility. The de-bordered (de-territorialised) freedom of mobility belongs to the realms of the world’s ‘tourists’, while the world’s vagabonds suffer stasis and forced or ‘unfree’ mobilities. He later differentiated between individualized and deracinated Western consumers and the ‘wasted lives’ of the rest who suffer forms of stasis (Bauman, 2004). Agency over mobility is dichotomised betweenthose who ‘cannot at will leave their place’ are the ‘ruled’, and those ‘rulers’ able to ‘be elsewhere’ (Bauman 2001: 120).

Aihwa Ong (1999) and Leslie Sklair (2001) examined the practices of elite business people controlling capital across national boundaries. Ong’s (1999) ‘flexible citizenship’ describes a resourcing process in which travelling or displaced subjects to respond fluidly and opportunistically to changing political-economic conditions within the  cultural logic of capitalist accumulation. For Ong, it is access to resources and resourcefulness rather than mobility that is the issue (Skeggs, 51).

Duval and Jordan similar describe a class of elite migrant able to transgress national boundaries. Such actors are grounded in national ties and state practices, yet able to mobilize (capital, labour, selves) across national boundaries. Within the neo-liberal paradigm the right to free movement and the punishment of stasis depends upon the individual’s ability to ‘make the required contribution’, and those migrants that represent a cost to the members of the (Northern) political communities ‘surrender their moral autonomy as well as their democratic sovereignty’ (Duvell and Jordan, 2005:97).Duvell and Jordan, similarly, write of the new channels of mobility that globalization demands for the ‘global nomads’ consisting of ‘financial, managerial and technical elites, and a range of highly skilled workers’ (Duvell and Jordan, 2005:60).

Morley (2000) argues immobility increasingly acquires the connotation of defeat, of failure and of being left behind, of being fixed in place. Yet for some people, fixed places may also be symbolic habitats, a performative way of life and of doing things, in which one makes the most of the cultural resources to hand.

Precarity and the loss of positive stasis  (immobility)



Indigeneity and the loss of positive stasis (immobility)








Bourdieu, Pierre, 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of Judgement and Taste, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Burawoy, Michael; Blum, J.A; Sheba, G, Gille, S; Gowan, L.H; Klawiter, M; Lopez, S.H; O Riain; Thayer, M (2000) Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections, and Imaginations in a Postmodern World, Berkeley, University of California Press.

Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society, vol. 1, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Oxford: Blackwell (rev. edn 2000).

Cohen, R. and Kennedy, P. (2013) Global Sociology, 3rd Edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan

Hart, G.P, (2002) Disabling Globalization: Places of Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Berkeley, University of California Press.

Moore, Henrietta L. (2004) Global Anxieties: Concept Metaphors and Pre-Theoretical Commitments in Anthropology, Anthropological Theory, 4 (1) 72-88.

Radhakrishnan, S. Appropriately Indian: Gender and Culture in a New Transnational Class, Duke University Press

Urry, J. (2000) Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-first Century, London: Routledge.

Urry, J. (2003) Global Complexity, Cambridge: Polity.

Urry, J. (2007) Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity

Wallerstein, I. (1974) The Modern World-system I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-economy in the Sixteenth Century, New York, Academic Press

Lecture 4 (spring semester).Why and how people migrate within and beyond national borders

Migration reasons, networks and scale (infra, international, global)

  • What is a migrant?
  • Do people migrate because of push or pull factors? Or sometimes Both?
  • Does the political economy structure their choices/actions?
  • Migration Networks
  • How can we characterize migration  in relation to internal mobility, international mobility and globalisation?

King, R (2012) “Theories and Typologies of Migration: An Overview and Primer”

Who or what is a Migrant?

  • International migrant: “any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country.” (United Nations)
  • Citizens, residents, settled immigrants (ius sanguinis), irregular/undocumented/illegal migrants
  • Internal migration: rural to urban migration; world cities, displacement, immobility

Ritzer, George; Dean, Paul. Globalization: A Basic Text (p. 264).Tthe UN estimates there are 232 million international migrants, or about 3.2% of the world’s population (UN 2013b).

Who or what isn’t a migrant?

The Immobility Paradox

  • Wage + unemployment differences in diverse locations suggest many more people should migrate.

Why don’t they?

  • Positive choice; people are rooted: family ties, jobs, culture, feeling at home
  • Lack of choice: poverty, political, institutional barriers

Malmerg, G 1997

Is it because they do not want to, or cannot? “It is one of the ironies of globalisation that whilst goods, capital, knowledge, entrepreneurship and the media are free to flow across borders, labour, that other crucial factor of production, is not. In fact, on the whole people are less free to migrate now than they were a hundred years ago”

King, R 5-6.

Why do people migrate: push-pull theory (based on neo-classical economics)

Push factors operating from the region or country of origin

  • Poverty, unemployment, landlessness, rapid population growth, political repression, low social status, poor marriage prospects etc.

Pull factors operating from the place or country of destination:

  • Better income and job prospects, better education and welfare systems, land to settle and farm, good environmental and living conditions, political freedom

Neoclassical economic paradigm

  • Economics paradigm, based on principles of utility maximisation, rational choice, factor-price differentials between regions and countries, and labour mobility.
  • Macroeconomic: migration results from the uneven spatial distribution of labour re other factors of production (land, capital).
  • Micro level, migration: the result of decisions made by individual ‘rational actors’ who weigh up the pros and cons of moving relative to staying, based on abundant information about the options.
  • Cost-benefit calculus) decisions based on returns to the individual’s investment in his or her human capital (Sjaastad, 1962; Borjas, 1989).

Criticisms of the neoclassical approach

Neoclassical approach neglects:

  • why so few people actually migrate, despite the apparent incentives to do so;
  • why some countries have high rates of out-migration whilst others (with the same structural economic conditions) have very low rates (Arango, 2004: 19-20)
  • personal, family or socio-cultural factors
  • multiple barriers to international movement
  • post-colonial pathways: histories of colonialism that linked certain countries together and not others
  • dependency and underdevelopment in the world economy
  • Other theoretical frameworks: Marxist political economy, historical developmentalism, systems theory, ‘new economics’ of migration (1970s -1980s).King, R (2012:14)

Historical-structural models

Causes of international migration; historically formed macro-structural forces, exploitative + inequitable global capitalism (Morawska 2012: 55).

Marxist interpretation of capitalism, (under) development, and the structuring of the world economy; dual and segmented labour markets, dependency theory, and world systems theory.

Dual Labour Market

Migrants are pulled (not pushed): international labour migration primarily driven by demand for cheap and flexible labour in advanced industrialised countries (Piore M. J. 1979)

Dual labour market  (advanced industrialised countries):

 primary labour market = secure, well-paid jobs for native workers; secondary labour market = low-skill, low-wage, insecure and generally unpleasant jobs in factories and the service sector, filled mainly by migrant workers because such jobs are shunned by local workers.

The very presence of migrant workers reinforces the undesirability of these secondary-sector jobs for the local labour force, which in turn enables employers to drive down wages and working conditions even more.

Segmented labour market; creation of these jobs precedes the migrants who fill them (Samers 2010: 65). UK, post war transport, health; 1990s-2000s… agriculture, service, food prep, construction, ….

Why do Foreign workers accept these poor positions?

a)Lack of bargaining power (especially if they are undocumented)

b)poor wages and jobs preferable to poverty/unemployment

Global Cities

  • Clustering of corporate headquarters, financial centres and related producer services. London and New York , Sydney, Shanghai, ….
  • Very low-income inhabitants geared to serve the needs of high-income inhabitants.
  • High end; finance, investors, professionals
  • Low-end; restaurants and hotel workers, cleaning office and house cleaners, carers (children, elderly, disabled); “precariat work” (Standing 2011); mainly undertaken by immigrants from poor countries

World Systems Theory

Global market economy + ‘new international division of labour’ NIDL (Froebel et al. 1980) asymmetric ties of trade, capital penetration and migration

  • ‘Core’ = dominant capitalist powers
  • ‘Periphery’: dependent on ‘core’ through.
  • ‘Semi-periphery’ intermediate in terms of their wealth and interdependent status

Wallerstein, 1974, 1979

  • Capitalist penetration into periphery dislodges rural labour and traditional patterns of employment and subsistence, creating possible mobile labour
  • This re/production of a ‘reserve army’ (Marxist term) enabled ‘core’ to pull this labour wherever it was needed (e.g., low-wage, low-status labour in global cities
  • A historically continuous global market serving capitalism’s demand for exploitable slave-like workers (Cohen, R. 1987; Potts, L. 1990)

Criticisms of the historical-structural model

  • Neglecting agency via historical determinism

Migrants ‘passive pawns in the play of great powers and world processes presided over by the logic of capital accumulation’ (Arango 2004: 27).

Millions of migrants exploited “but others make progress, succeed, and prosper” (King, R, 2012)

Sisters in Time ….

  • The role of the state neglected

Political economy models

Labour-demand + state or supra-state [EU]) make immigration policies – quota and admission systems, regulations of entry, duration of stay, work permits, citizenship rights etc. –  shape the volume, dynamics and geography of international migration.

Hegemonic stability model

Global economic system; political + military power of dominant nations regulates global trade, finance, and international migration.

(Morawska. 2007:4).

Hegemonic (neoliberal) receiver-states regulate global trade, finance, and international migration. (Morawska. 2007:4).

Growing connectivity between migration, globalisation, +  ‘social transformation’ – ‘major shifts in dominant [global] power relationships’ (Castles + Miller 2009:54)

Challenge to hegemony through transnational societies (Castles and Miller, 2009:12)


  • Multiple analytical focus on structure, linkage and process.
  • Derived from general (scientific) systems theory
  • Flexible in scale + ideology
  • Moves beyond a linear, unidirectional, push-pull movement to migration as circular, multi-causal and interdependent (Faist 1997a: 193).
  • Self-feeding systems (like chain migration)
  • Self-regulating systems (correcting themselves in response to a ‘shock’ to the system)
  • Self-modifying system (e.g. shifting to a different destination when blocked).
  • critics of the systems approach pointto its mechanistic, positivist nature and to its neglect of the personal and humanistic angles.


  • Migrant networks: interpersonal ties connecting migrants, non-migrants and former migrants
  • Webs of kinship, friendship and shared origin.
  • Forms of social capital stretched across migrant space
  • By providing information and contacts, they direct migrants to destinations where help is available (accommodation, jobs financial support)

…. information lowers the costs and risks of migration (Massey et al. 1998: 42-43).

Three main types of migrant networks:

  • family and personal networks
  • labour networks
  • illegal migrant networks (Samers (2010: 87-93) .

all networks gendered; women often active in developing and sustaining personal networks (Boyd and Nowak 2012: 83-86).

Samers (2010: 87-93) argues that smuggling and trafficking networks, are halfway between social networks and (criminal) business networks transporting migrants across borders, and subsequently (in the case of trafficking) exploiting them by holding them in a bonded and indebted state, notably sex-work. However,  as we will discuss in the lecture on trafficking, others argue that sex work migration is generally made of up informal networks such as friends, family and colleagues supporting migration and work.

Migration networks theory:

  • contribute to understanding the dynamics of differential migration;
  • help to predict future migration since networks ‘reproduce’ migrants through time;
  • help distinguish between initial causes of migration and its perpetuation + diffusion (Fussell 2012).

New Economics of Labour Migration (NELM)

  • Migration decisions taken within the household (micro level)
  • Migration decisions taken within extended families and wider communal groups (meso level) (Massey et al. 1998: 21).
  • Decision-making includes income diversification and risk reduction; (who goes, where to go, for how long, to do what etc.) (for instance, crop failure due to drought or hurricane, or sudden unemployment)
  • Risk reduction is important in poor sending countries where ‘market failures’ cannot be compensated by savings, insurance or credit (because none of these are available).
  • Diversifying income-earning and livelihood resources into different activities, spreading their labour resources over space and time. Different family members can thus be allocated to different tasks: work/care locally; internal migration; international migration.
  • Remittances from international labour migration to a wage-labour destination can be used to cover risks, or to invest

Criticisms of the NELM model.

  • NELM disappears household/extended family/community conflict/patriarchy
  • NELM is a partial theory, focusing on push not pull? But does any theory need to be total? (Van Hear, 2010:1535)
  • NELM does not address entire household migration
  • NELM shows that returnees may have greater social/economic capital and be viewed as successful. Is return always a sign of success? Is non-return a sign of success? Does successful migration always aid the household/extended family/community?


migrant activities ‘that take place on a recurrent basis across national borders and that require a regular and significant commitment of time by participants… These activities are not limited to economic enterprises [such as sending and receiving remittances, or setting up a business ‘back home’], but include political, cultural and religious activities as well’ (Portes, 1999).

  • Migration is a part of the process of transformation of social structures and institutions, and of the entire global political economy (Castles, 2010:1596)
  • Not only is migration affected by broad dynamics of national and global social change, but it is part and parcel of that change” (King, 2012: 24).
  • Shift from focus on causes of migration to experience of migration influenced by the ‘cultural turn’ in sociology, anthropology, human geography, cultural studies (and interdisciplinary) King, R (2012:25)
  • Transnational approach questions the linear, push-pull, no-return model; builds on theories of migration networks; and poses questions for existing literature on integration + assimilation of migrants in host countries


  • A minority of international migrants live transnational lives or occupy transnational social spaces’ (Faist 2000; Portes, 2003: 876).
  • Changes generated by migration do not alter but buttress the fundamental constitutive elements of the host society (Portes,2010: 1556).

Migration Characteristics

  • Internal vs. international
  • Temporary vs. permanent
  • Regular vs. irregular migration
  • Voluntary vs. forced migration, for instance ‘economic’ migrants vs. refugees.

Three ‘core groups’ temporary labour migrants, settler migrants and refugees have dominated the study of migration

Human trafficking and people smuggling are two forms of (often) labour migration

Blurred categories

Sales (2007: 47) theoretical distinction between refugee migration and ‘voluntary’ economic migration neglects conflicts producing economic devastation which forces people to leave who do not satisfy the requirement of a well-founded fear of persecution under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees

Globalized typologies?

  • Globe-spanning migrations without historical precedent (i.e. Chinese in Italy);
  • Local-scale crossborder shuttle migration,
  • ‘residential tourism’, extending tourist stays to several months;
  • Business visits and work contract migration (Salt 1992).
  • international migrations connected with family reunion and childcare, marriage migration, student migration, retirement migration, high-skilled migration and brain drain,
  • Environmental and climate-change migration,
  • Human trafficking and sexual exploitation

Some theorists argue that new types of migration and international mobility form important elements of the increasingly complex global map of population movements (King 2002; King et al. 2010; Martiniello and Rath 2012). Post-fordism, space-time compression, and the embeddedness of migration and mobility in the forces of globalisation and the New World Order have introduced new mobility forms where none existed before. This may not, however, actually represent a discontinuity with colonial era migration.


  • Castles, S. (2007), ‘Twenty-first Century Migration as a Challenge to Sociology’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 33: 351-71.
  • Dickinson, E, (2016), Globalization and Migration: A World in Motion, Chapters 3 and 4
  • Ritzer, G. and Dean, P (2014) Globalization, A Basic Text, 2nd Edition, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell (Ch. 10)
  • King, R (2012) “Theories and Typologies of Migration: An Overview and Primer”
  • Arango, J. (2004). Theories of International Migration. In D. Joly (ed.), International Migration and the New Millennium. Aldershot: Ashgate,15-36.
  • Boyd, M. and Nowak, J. (2012). Social Networks and International Migration, in Martiniello, M. and Rath, J. (eds.). An Introduction to International Migration Studies. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 77-103.
  • Borjas, G.J. (1989). Economic Theory of International Migration, International Migration Review, 23(3): 457-485.
  • Castles, S. (2010). Understanding Global Migration: A Social Transformation Perspective, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(10): 1565-1586.
  • Castles, S. and Miller, M.J. (2009). The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (4th edition).
  • Cohen, R. (1987). The New Helots: Migrants in the International Division
  • of Labour. Aldershot: Avebury.
  • Cohen, R. (1996). Introduction, in Cohen, R. (ed.) Theories of Migration.Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, xi-xvii.
  • Cohen, R. (2008). Global Diasporas: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2nd edition.

Draft Lecture 5 (spring semester). Chinese internal and international migration

Welcome to this week’s two-part lecture on Chinese migration.

Today we will talk about Chinese migration. We will introduce

  • Historical migration patterns: Late Imperial, Republican, Maoist, Reform (and post-reform) eras.
  • Internal and international migration and the relationships between them. This includes the social organisation of migration (state regulation, political economy); structures and cultures of migrant communities; role of voluntary associations; impact of migration on home communities, employment, entrepreneurship, formation of regional + ethnic identities.
  • Scales, modes, gender, class and state regulation of migration


Part one: 16th to 20th century migration networks and patterns

  • From late 16th century Chinese labourers and merchants established settlements in south-east Asia, producing and trading in commodities such as tine, gold, pepper and sugar.
  • 18th century: approx 4000 to 10 000 Chinese labourers per year travelled
    on Chinese vessels bound for Chinese entrepots in Southeast Asia (Trocki, 2005:149)
  • They were members of egalitarian fraternities based on share-owning partnerships founded by the secret societies that ran peasant village networks in southern China. Members held shares in enterprises financed by merchant capital; distribution of shares and profits based on contributions
  • Shareholding companies (kongsi, gonsi) established themselves in Borneo, leadership by merit based democratic election. By 19th century companies had become federations in West Kalimantan; effectively running their areas as mini-state (Heidhus, 2003)

Periods, scale and destinations (international)

Period Scale Destinations Source
1800 to 1850 320,000 Southeast Asia, Americas, Australasia McKeown 2004
1850 to 1900 7,000,000 Southeast Asia, Americas, Australasia McKeown 2004
1849-1882 258,210 Northern America Yung, 1995
1882-1943 300,955 Northern America Yung, 1995

Chinese emigration increased massively in the second half of the 19th century.

Many of these travelled from Guandong province in southern China (adjacent to Hong Kong), where the European and American prescence had contributed to local instabilities of increased taxation and unequal economic and political relations at at time of civil and ethnic unrest, rapid population growth and natural disasters (Lee, 2006:2). These migrations established pathways for later migrations.

Modes of labour migration (18th to 19th centuries)

Labour migration under two kinds of contract; indentured labour and the credit-ticket system

Indentured labour system (dominant up until mid-19th century)

  • Followed the abolition of slavery, substituting Chinese labourers for African slave labour on plantations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • A major innovation in Chinese labour practices in response to European and American colonial interventions in Chinese trading networks.

Credit-ticket system (dominant from mid-century in California, Australia)

  • Individuals secured credit for their passage though personal contacts in their local communities or through supportive merchant houses, often against the security of property. Workers repaid their loans with interest from their earnings over time.
  • Native-place associations (or, ‘district clubs’) mediated between immigrants and creditors in China and Hong Kong. Clubs and shipping companies agreed to refuse transport back to China until debt paid.
  • Role of these associations viewed by immigrants as a mark of trust rather than bondage. For example, Yee Hing brotherhood (Victoria, Australia) ‘cultivated an ethic of equality, camaraderie, mutual assistance and independence for hierarchical constraints of late imperial China” (Fitzgerald, 2007: 66)

 Internal and international migration networks (16-19th centuries)


The appropriate unit of analysis in the history of Chinese migration is the extended family and long-term family migration strategies.

Nineteenth-century patterns of overseas immigration replicated long-patterns of internal immigration, where families spatially deployed their offspring throughout the empire to ensure the survival of the family or to maximise its status and income.(Fitzgerald, 2007: 48)

The movement and settlement of family members throughout China … was accompanied by a nostalgic commemoration of the original site of settlement (the old village, or guxiang) as a ritual site of family unity

Gendered and classed migration and settlement in the 19th century

The first generation of migrants were generally young men.They were …

 … sent abroad to make a living, to send money home in support of other family members and to test the likely reception in the host society to the prospect of permanent settlement by new sub-branches of the family. .. (Fitzgerald, 2007: 48)

In this generation, many young men married women in China, and lived and worked overseas to support their wives and children. Where there was social reproduction in the new country of residence, it often involved foreign women rather than Chinese women.

The promise of economic security that motivated Chinese men to migrate to the US also motivated many Chinese women. The majority of female migrants to the US during the exclusion era (1882-1943) travelled as wives of Chinese merchants or US citizens. Most Chinese women were not able to enter America independently, but had to rely on male relatives to sponsor or support their admission. The exemption categories for the exclusion laws – merchants, teachers, diplomats and travellers – favoured men with some degree of wealth, and generally excluded women.

Patriarchal attitudes in China and overseas also served to restrict independent female emigration.  “Decent” Chinese women were discouraged from migrating (even as dependents of husbands and other male relatives). US immigration officials viewed independent female migration applicants as probable or possible prostitutes and subjected them to harsher scrutiny (Lee, 2003: 93). Chinese women in this situation adopted strategies and offered evidence of their “proper character” or class status (such as fine clothes, and bound feet, both of which were viewed as features of elite status families) (Lee, 2006:17).

Most Chinese migrants were not the poorest of the poor, as thy had to have the means (or ability to repay) the passage fares and associated costs. The expense and difficulty discouraged less wealthy women, in particular,  from migrating. In Hawaii, discriminatory head taxes worked to restrict independent female migration as most could not afford it, outside of paid sexual labour (which was one of the sole means of earning an income sufficient to pay the debt of the passage). So in Hawaii, as in other American destinations, female migration was generally  restricted to the (dependent) wives of wealthy merchants and professionals (McKeown, 2001).  

In Australia after Federation (1901), wives were prohibited from joining husbands. This led to greater male mobility with women raising families in China.

Western state restrictions on Chinese immigration and settlement (late19th-early 20th century)

From the late 19th century onwards, US states, Australia enacted increasingly restictive policies aimed at curtailing (and eventually, preventing) Chinese immigration and settlement.

Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882 (US)

While Exclusion policy (Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882) hampered migration to the States, many Chinese found a way to challenge or circumvent the exclusion. Nonetheless, the vast majority of post-exclusion emigrants went to other destinations.

Period Scale Destinations Source
1849-1882 258,210 Northern America Yung, 1995
1882-1943 300,995 Northern America Yung, 1995

During the period leading up to exclusion in America (1849-1882) there were 258,210 migrants from China to America (Yung, 1995: 22, in Lee, 2006:1).

The east-coast Antipodean colonies enacted anti-Chinese restrictions in the second half of the 19th century, seeking to limit Chinese immigrants to those most menial and badly paid work and, in particular, barring them from the benefits of the gold rush. Queensland enacted the Goldfields Bill 1876 (Qld) and the Chinese Immigration Restriction Act 1877 (Qld). New South Wales enacted the Chinese Immigration Restriction Bill 1897 (NSW).

In the lead up to federation, Western Australia was coerced into giving up its plans to use Chinese labour in its northern plantation as a condition of statehood. The federation legislation titled Commonwealth Immigration Act (1901) gave the White Australia policy legal status. The policy was specifically aimed at excluding Chinese immigrants and maintaining the Australian nation as a British (primarily ex-English) community. It mirrored the American Chinese Exclusion Act (1882).

Ren shan, ren hai 人山人海

Part two: 20th to 21st century migration networks and patterns

Maoist era rural-urban-rural migration

The planned economy and involuntary or ideological migration were key features of internal migration in the Maoist era (1949-1978).

  • large-scale movements of peasants to the cities in 1956–7 with the speed-up of collectivization
  • periodic campaigns to send cadres and intellectuals down to the countryside for ideological remoulding (xiafang)
  • return to the countryside of peasant migrants after 1957 (huixiang)
  • the mammoth campaign forcing high school and university graduates to the countryside (shangshan xiaxiang) between 1968 and 1976 after the Cultural Revolution.
  • routine state unified job allocation system (guojia tongyi gongzuo fenpei, or fenpei for short), part of the economic plan, creating approx 20 million migrants under the hukou [household registration system] (Mallee, Hein: 4).

The hukou system worked to control/regulate the rural/urban populations,  The hukou has been likened to an urban passport. Citizens were required to register in one place of regular residence. Once assigned a residential location, individuals could not elect to change their hukou registration. By 1955, all citizens of China were listed with either an urban or rural household registration. The hukou

  • provided population statistics, identifying individual status
  • was designed to restrict rural-to-urban migration; and agriculture-to-industry labour
  • holding an urban hukou gave a access to food, housing, public health, education, pensions and other basic life necessities provided by the state, and many types of urban jobs. In contrast, the rural population was basically outside the state welfare system.


Guthries suggests that the system restricted migration:

With proper paperwork, in some instances, individuals could legally migrate to urban areas, for example, but few people would choose to do so because it was so difficult to survive outside their hukou registration locations …. (Guthrie, pp. 195-196)

However, other researchers suggest this overlooks the scale of informal mobility (migration outside of the hukuo system).

Hukou system in the current era:

Hukou system continues with some changes. Chinese citizens still generally required live in the place where their “hukou” is kept, but can apply to change it.

  • Chinese state committed to gradual reform, granting urban hukou to migrant workers in small towns and cities, but not megacities (by 2020)
  • Migrant workers in some cities can apply for temporary residence permits which give them some welfare rights for limited periods
  • 260 million migrant workers live in cities but do not enjoy the same benefits as those who hold an urban hukuo (http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2013-12/18/content_17182462.htm)

Internal migration networks and circulation

From the 1970’s onwards, migrants such as those from Zhejian migrated and settled in diverse locations throughout China. Once the migrants had established themselves, they recruited labour and business partners from their home communities, building strong and well organised communities able to survive long period without contact with the home community (Xiang Biao, 1999)


Rapid urbanisation built on migrant labour in the reform era


‘Floating population’

Migrant workers are known as the ‘floating population’ because their temporary status  and settlement is difficult

They often stay in ‘urban villages’ or factory compounds in cities, many working in constructionPicture7

Their labour is the engine of China’s rapid urbanisation

‘Migrant workers’ conditions and quality of life for the millions of migrants were often quite appalling with little in the way of government intervention’ . ajeckstein / June 22, 2011Shenzhen: The “Instant City”


Rapid urbanisation example: Shenzhen
Special Economic Zone

Pre-reform era

Shenzhen was a fishing village area of approx. 30,000 people in 1979

Post-reform era

  • 18-20 million people
  • Approx 4 million have Shenzhen hukou,
  • 8 million have permanent residency,
  • 5-8 million “float” unofficially within the city
  • 90% + immigrant pop.
  • Under the Reform strategy Shenzhen became a special economic zone (SEZ) SEZ have economic  & other laws that are more free-market than normal national laws

Reform and Opening policies; these  policies were first tested in Shenzhen and the other SEZs, Zhuhai, Shantou, and Xiamen and later on, Hainan.

SEZ include free trade zones, export processing zones, free zones, industrial parks/estates, urban enterprise zones. Designed to increase foreign direct investment, develop infrastructure, increase employment

Urbanisation, wealth, inequality

Cities like Shenzhen derive great wealth from IT, industry, services, finance, logistics, property.

Housing in these cities is very expensive: For example, Shenzhen is the 7th most expensive city to buy an apartment in the world, with values having increasing 75% 2015-16

In/equality in the reform era

Less Poverty in Reform era:

Chinese People living on less than one US dollar:

  • 1981: 634 million (63.8% of the population)
  • 2001: 212 million (16.6% of the population)

Global effect: worldwide population living under poverty line nearly halved from 1981-2001; China’s contribution very high, including effects of investment in Africa

However, growing inequality in China… especially between rural areas v urban areas

Measured by the Gini coefficient (which ranges from perfect equality at a value of 0 to absolute inequality at a value of 1), the PRC shifted from 0.22 — one of the most equitable scores ever recorded — in 1978, to 0.469 in 2007, ranking China as one of the world’s most inequitable societies (Goodman and Zang, 2008: 2; citing Adelmen and Sunding, 1987, Xinhua, 17 January 2007).

picture 10

picture 9


picture 9

Contemporary International migration from China

Elite migration



picture 11

picture 12

Documentary: China’s Millionaire Migrants


International  sex work migration: aspirational migration

The TiP 2017 stated that Chinese women and girls were sex-trafficked to up to 19 international destinations, and the US State Department report (2008) had previously indicated that most of the sex-trafficking occurred in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan. The 2008 TiP report claimed that Chinese female migrants were being “forced into commercial sexual exploitation” after having been lured abroad with through “false promises of legitimate employment” (and, typically, provides no evidence for its allegation).

Chin and Finckenauer’s  (2012) ethnographic work with Chinese sex workers in eight areas in Asia (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and mainland China) and two cities in the US (Los Angeles and New York)  found Chinese migrants overseas to be involved in voluntary not forced sex work, and to be motivated by the greater income afforded by sex work overseas. Other ethnographic research in international sex-work destinations including Malaysia, Australia and Cameroon corroborate the tendencies identified in Chin and Finckenauer’s work. For example, B.N. Chin’s (2012) ethnographic work with migrant sex workers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, shows that sex work can provide women with the means of earning income for families, for education, and for their own businesses. She argues that it enables a form of cosmopolitanism “from below,” via international travel and language and cultural learning.

Renshaw et al.,s (2015) ethnographic research with Chinese, as well as Thai and Korean migrant sex workers in Sydney and Melbourne similarly found that most report high levels of personal safety and safe sexual health, and none of the migrant sex workers they interviewed reported extortion through debt or identified themselves as victims, and very few claimed to have been trafficked.

Ndjio’s (2009) ethnography with Chinese women and girls doing sex work in Douala,cpd Cameroon, also found that sex work was undertaken voluntarily, either prior to migration (in China) or after working in low paid service-work in Douala. Sex work migration had occurred in two waves, with the first wave in the 1990s working to support the needs of the single male Chinese workers in Cameroon, and the second wave in the 2000s working as part of the increasing development of Chinese-African trade. In both waves, Ndjio suggests, the market for Chinese sex services in Cameroon provided an opportunity for impoverished rural Chinese women.


  • Battistealla, G. (ed.), (2015) Global and Asian Perspectives on International Migration, Switzerland, Springer.
  • Chin, K. and Finckenauer, J.O.  (2012) Selling Sex Overseas: Chinese Women and the Realities of Prostitution and Global Sex Trafficking. NYU Press.
  • Fitzgerald, J. (2007), Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia, Sydney, University of New South Wales.
  • Guthrie, D. China and Globalization: The Social, Economic and Political Transformation of Chinese Society. Taylor and Francis
  • Miao, L. and Wang, H. (eds.), (2017), International Migration of China: Status, Policy and Social Responses to the Globalization of Migration, Singapore, Springer.
  • Kajunus, A. (2015), Chinese Student Migration, Gender and Family, Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kennedy, P, (2010), Local Lives and Global Transformations: Towards World Society
  • Pieke, N. and Mallee, H. (1999), Internal and International Migration: Chinese Perspectives, Richmond, UK. Curzon.
  • Lee, E. (2003), At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press
  • Lee, E. (2006), “Defying Exclusion: Chinese Immigrants and their Strategies during the Exclusion Era”, in  Chan. S. (ed.), Chinese American Transnationalism: The Flow of People, Resources and Ideas between China and America during the Exclusion Era, Philadelphia, Temple University Press.
  • McKeown, A. (2001),Chinese Migrant Networks and Cultural Change: Peru, Chicago, Hawaii, 1900–1936, Chicago, Chicago University Press
  • McKeown, A. (2004), ‘Global Chinese Migration’, paper presented to the Fifth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas, Helsignor, Denmark.
  • Anderson, B. (2006), Imagined Communities, Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism


Draft: Lecture 6 (spring semester). Precarity, Immobility and Indigeneity


Sociological and post/colonial stratifications of im/mobility

Bauman (1998:86) described the stratifications of postmodern consumer society in terms of freedom, or lack of freedom of mobility. The de-bordered (de-territorialised) freedom of mobility belongs to the realms of the world’s ‘tourists’, while the world’s vagabonds suffer stasis and forced or ‘unfree’ mobilities. He later differentiated between individualized and deracinated Western consumers and the ‘wasted lives’ of the rest who suffer forms of stasis (Bauman, 2004). Agency over mobility is dichotomised between those who ‘cannot at will leave their place’ are the ‘ruled’, and those ‘rulers’ able to ‘be elsewhere’ (Bauman 2001: 120).

… postcolonial theorists caution against conceiving of freedom in terms of movement, arguing that freedom of occupancy and place is just as important for indigenous and other colonised people.

Historical legacies

Within the 19th century paradigm of liberalism, an individual who transgressed the norms of labour discipline and thus became a ‘pauper’ could be compelled to enter the workhouse system of forced labour. This form of stasis constituted, as Duvell and Jordan observe, a loss of the rights of mobility and association, and thus a loss of substantive citizenship and the liberal status of moral equality.[1] Such disorderly subjects were guilty of transgressing the liberal principle of property rights inasmuch as their poverty represented both a burden upon the ‘common wealth’ and a refusal of marketised discipline (Duvell and Jordan, 2005:97).

Nodes of immobility

Prisons, like refugee camps and immigration detention facilities, are peculiar institutions that function at one end of a continuum of social and physical mobility and immobility. The prison works to forcibly confine and isolate prisoners from the wider community, and then employs regimented and authoritarian regimes and architecture to further confine their mobility inside the prison.

For example:

  • Aboriginal youths arrested in regional Australia
  • Rejected asylum seekers incarcerated in the UK;
  • English sink estate residents incarcerated for involvement in the informal economy, including drugs

In the first example a typical trajectory involves conflict and poverty and irregular international migration, the conviction of the non-resident for a poverty-related crime, forced stasis through imprisonment and detention, and then forced deportation. This confined territorial circulation is also confined social mobility: the escape from insecurity and poverty promised through emigration or lowers the migrant to the status of criminal and then returns her to increasingly impoverished conditions.

Many of the people in English prisons come from sink estates marked by sustained poverty, and unemployment, often in former manufacturing and mining conurbations. These communities often comprise post-war immigrants from former colonies, new groups of asylum-seeking immigrants, and static British residents. The first two groups experience postcolonial and globalised displacement before entrenched stasis in the estate.  In the latter (English resident) aspect, there is a displacement from the habitas of manufacturing or mining, prior to entrenched stasis and social immobility.[1] In this regard there is a partial similarity with the confinements of Aboriginal people (refugees from the land they still inhabit). These multicultural communities circulate between the welfare, justice and penal systems and the informal economy.

Carceral continuum


Unfree Labour, Precarity and Hyper-precarity

Human trafficking is one form of ‘unfree labour migration’, and vulnerability to this form of exploitation as ‘hyper-precarity’ involving neoliberal globalisation, socio-legal status, and micro-level experiences/circumstances ( Lewis et al., 2015).

O’Connell Davidson (2015) and others critique liberal (ideological) and neo-abolitionist frameworks of trafficking as ‘modern slavery’, which individualise trafficking as the result of individual malign actors and individual incapacity, isolates it from other forms of labour exploitation, and misrepresent contemporary exploitation in terms of an inadequate account of chattel slavery. Instead, Phillips (2011)  views unfree labour as intrinsic to global economic networks, and thus as the result of adverse inclusion within the global economy, even or particularly where that inclusion is predicated on forms of social exclusion (for example, in terms of ‘race’, ethnicity, gender, nationality).

Incommensurability and The right to remain



[1] Charlesworth, 2000. Charlesworth’s study of a working class community in Rotherham shows that the disappearance of traditional work and its way of life changes resident’s sense of place and ontological security so that those reliant on precarious and poorly paid labour come to be seen and experience themselves as ‘aliens among their own species’ (9).



Anderson, Bridget, Us and Them, …

Bauman, Z. ‘Tourists and Vagabonds’, in Globalization: The Human Consequences, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1989

Bauman, Z. (1991) Modernity and the Holocaust, Cambridge: Polity

Bauman, Z. (2001) Liquid modernity, Cambridge: Polity.

Bauman, Z. (2004) Wasted lives: modernity and its outcasts, Cambridge: Polity.

Brenner, R. (1999), ‘Globalization as Re-territorialisation: The re-scaling of Urban Governance in the European Union’, Urban Studies, Vol. 36, No 3. Carfax, Taylor and Francis, 1999, pp., 431-451

Blagg, H. (2016), From terra nullius to terra liquidus? Liquid modernity and the Indigenous Other, in Anna Eriksson. Punishing the Other: The social production of immorality revisited, Taylor and Francis.

Charlesworth, C. (2000), A Phenomenology of Working Class Experience, 2000

Davidson O’Connell, J. (2015), Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom. Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Duvell. F and Jordan, B. (2005) Migration: The Boundaries of Equality and Justice, London, Polity Press.

De Georgio, A (2006) Rethinking the Political Economy of Punishment: Perspectives on post-Fordism and Penal Politics, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Gidwani, V. and Kalayanakrishnan, S. (2003) ‘Circular Migration and the Spaces of Cultural Assertion’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 93, No. 1.

Lewis, H. Dwyer, P. Hodkinson, S. and Waite, L. (2015), Precarious Lives: Forced Labour, Exploitation and Asylum, Policy Press, University of Bristol.

Makere S-H, (2013), The New Imperial Order: Indigenous Responses to Globalization, Zed Books

Phillips, N. (2013b) ‘Unfree labour and adverse incorporation in the global economy: comparative perspectives on Brazil and India’, Economy and Society, vol 42, no 2, pp 171-96. Phillips, N. and Mieres,



Lecture 7 (spring semester): Displacement, asylum seekers, refugees.

Welcome to lecture 6 on kinds, causes and responses to forced and coerced displacement

In this lecture we will discuss:

  • Definitions: ‘forced migration’ ‘refugees,’ ‘asylum seekers,’ ‘internally displaced persons’.
  • Asylum seekers & refugees,  integration and exclusion (using the example of the UK).
  • Government, Media & popular Discourses on asylum/refugees.
  • Relationship between “globalisation” and forced migration/refugees?

Definition of Refugees

Refugee: a person residing outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return because of:

“a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (UNHCR 1951) 

and that they are unable to seek state protection (UNHCR 1967).

In order to claim refugee status, people must prove this

The 1951/1967 United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country

Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951UNHCR & The UN Refugee Convention 1951 = response to genocide of Jewish diaspora

more than 350 million and together they constitute 5–6% of the world’s population

Definitions: Asylum Seekers & Forced Migrants, Internally Displaced Persons

Asylum seekers

An asylum seeker is someone seeking asylum whose claim to be a refugee has not yet been officially processed

Under the 1951 Convention everybody has the right to claim asylum. No such thing as an ‘illegal asylum seeker’.

Forced migrants

‘a general term that refers to the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (those displaced by conflicts) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects

Coerced migrants

Falling short of actual force but still compelling people to migrate. For example, famine, economic depression, environmental damage, exclusive/discriminatory law/practice (making it difficult for groups to settle or remain) are some of the conditions that compel people to migrate

Internally Displaced Persons

  •  ‘persons who have been forced to flee their homes suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers, as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights or natural or man-made disasters, and who are within the territory of their own country’ (UN 1992)
  • Sometimes referred to as ‘internal refugees’, these people are in similar need of protection and assistance as refugees but do not have the same legal and institutional support as those who have crossed an international border.

Types of Forced Migration

Conflict-Induced Displacement

People who flee their homes due to armed conflict, generalized violence, persecution on the grounds of nationality, race, religion, political opinion or social group

Development-Induced Displacement

Compelled to move because of policies implemented to enhance ‘development’ (e.g. Large-scale infrastructure projects like dams, roads, airports, ports, mining, deforestation)

Disaster-Induced Displacement

Displaced as a result of natural disasters, environmental change (e.g. Deforestation, desertification, global warming), and  human-made disasters (industrial accidents, radioactivity)  Source: Forced Migration Online

Immigration Concepts: settlement

  • Assimilation – immigrants adapt or ‘assimilate’ into the host society while institutions and the ‘host’ population are not expected to change significantly
  • Segregation -when migrants’ cultural roots and identities are maintained, but there is little interaction with the host community
  • Marginalization -migrants lose their sense of identity and also remain socially excluded from wider society
  • Integration – migrants participate in wider society while maintaining their cultural roots and identities. Berry (1992)

Integration & Assimilation

  • Integration describes a two-way process requiring adaptation by migrants but also by ‘host’ communities and institutions (Castles et al. 2002: 133; Modood 2007: 48).
  • Van Hear (1998: 55): the concept of integration denotes a greater degree of choice on behalf of the migrants rather than them being forced to assimilate.
  • Assimilation: One way process of adaptation: Give up distinctive linguistic, cultural or social characteristics

Multiculturalism and Interculturalism

  • Multiculturalism: Immigrants should be able to participate as equals in all spheres of society without being expected to give up their own culture, religion and language
  • Complex multiculturalism: The Equality Act (2010), puts the claims of the religion and belief on the same level as race, ethnicity and nationality, as well as disability, sexuality, gender, age,
  • Interculturalism emphasises interaction and participation of citizens in a common society, rather than cultural differences and different cultures existing next to each other without necessarily much contact or participative interaction. Interculturalism is therefore equivalent to mutual integration. While multiculturalism boils down to celebrating difference, interculturalism is about understanding each other’s cultures, sharing them and finding common ground on which people can become more integrated. (NewStart Magazine 7 June 2006, cited in Meer & Modood, 2011, 188)

Scale and location of refugee and IDP migration


65.3 million people were forcibly displaced persons in 2015

Total = record high

12.4 million newly displaced by conflict

SOURCE: Report by the UN’s High Commission for Refugees (December 2015)

21.3 million refugees; half of these children; 3.2 million asylum seekers

40.8 million internally displaced people


Half from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia;

Other major countries of origin;

Colombians, Congolese, Iraqis, Nigerians, Sudanese, South Sudanese, and Yemenis.

Developing countries host 86% of the world’s refugees

Top 6 hosting countries

  1. Turkey (2.5 million)
  2. Pakistan (1.6 million)
  3. Lebanon (1.1 million)
  4. Islamic Rep. of Iran (979,400)
  5. Ethiopia (736,100)
  6. Jordan (664,100)

Location of asylum applications

  • Largest asylum applications; Germany 441,900
  • US (172,700), Sweden(156,400),Russian Federation (152,500)
  • 201,400 refugees returned to their country of origin

Push factors for asylum seekers & refugees

  • Repression and/or discrimination of minorities
  • Ethnic conflict and human rights abuse
  • Civil War
  • Numbers of internally displaced people relative to total population
  • Poverty
  • Position on the Human Development Index (HDI)
  • Life Expectancy
  • Population density
  • Adult illiteracy rate
  • Environmental disasters

Source: Castles et al., 2003

Pull factors for asylum seekers & refugees

  • Peace & public order, via democratic institutions & rule of law
  • Strong economies & chance for reasonable living standards
  • Strong welfare and health systems
  • Geographic proximity
  • Cultural affinity, inc. language
  • Presence of people from same culture/ethnicity
  • Ability to draw upon social and cultural capital

Pull factors can be actual or perceived

Asylum seekers/refugees may be pushed, but may still make choices based on pull factors (Robinson, 2002)

Case study 1. British refugee policy: A tradition of tolerance?


Restricting asylum migration

British asylum policy designed to achieve

  • Deterence
  • Prevention
  • Detention
  • Deportation

From Cold War tolerance to postcolonial intolerance

Political/Media Discourse

  • 1950s-1980s: Cold War: West offers refuge from Communist oppression while actual  refugee numbers low
  • 1985+ Politicians begin to legislate to restrict asylum immigration and settlement as refuge number increase
  • Popular media (e.g., Daily Mail) opposed to/campaigns against asylum seekers

negative language repeatedly used to describe asylum seekers and refugees in the popular press:

scrounger, sponger, fraudster, robbing the system’, ‘burden/strain on resources’, ‘illegal working, cheap labour, cash in hand, black economy’, criminal (unspecified or non-violent), ‘criminal violent’, ‘arrested, jailed, guilty’, ‘mob, horde, riot, rampage, disorder’, ‘a threat, a worry, to be feared (terror, but not terrorism). ICAR, 2004, 35

  • political discourse: 1985+

Politicians begin to use terms like ‘disguised economic migrants’, and ‘bogus’ asylum seeker as opposed to ‘genuine refugees’; as ‘illegal’ as opposed to legal; Assumes refugee migration is political not economic

Effects of anti-asylum political discourse

  1. Xenophobia. Government public hostility to asylum seekers simply legitimates xenophobic sentiments. It encourages anti-asylum mobilisation and provides the public with cues for seeing problems in a distorted and exaggerated way’. Paul Statham 2003
  2. Criminalisation. Shift from protecting refugees to criminalising asylum migration. Governments increasingly offer protection against ‘traffickers/smugglers’ instead of refuge and settlement
  3. Stagnation. People are stuck in camps. Spontaneous arrivals represented and treated as ‘queue jumpers’ (they are instead required to wait in camps for selection, which may take many years or just not eventuate).
  4. Danger. Increasingly hazardous journeys. 3,740 lives had been lost by Oct 25, 2016 in the Mediterranean, just short of the 3,771 reported for the whole of 2015 (UNHCR, 2016)
  5. Marginalisation. Destitution for rejected asyslum seekers and asylum applicants in country.



  • 20th century has been referred to as the ‘age of the refugee’ (Steiner 1970)
  • ‘Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an escalation in the number armed conflicts around the world … There has been a large increase in the number of refugees during this period as displacement has increasingly become a strategic tactic often used by all sides in the conflict’ (Forced Migration Online)
  • Post WWII: Age of global rights norms, instruments, institutions: refuge and protection as a fundamental human right

Refugees: Globalization’s “waste” products

Displaced persons as ‘waste products of globalization’ (Zygmunt Bauman, 2004)

Tribal wars, massacres, conflict between proliferating ‘guerrilla armies’ absorb and annihilate the ‘population surplus’ (the young, unemployable at home and without prospects)

‘Perhaps the sole thriving industry of the ‘developing countries’ is the mass production of refugees the ever more prolific products of that industry which the British  Prime Minister proposes to unload ‘near their home countries’, in permanently temporary camps … (dubbed ‘safe havens’) … The aim is to keep ‘local’ problems local (2004: 73)

‘The numbers of homeless and stateless victims of globalization grow too fast for the designation and construction of camps to keep up’ (2004: 75)

Refugees & Globalisation concepts

Networks: smuggling networks

Flows; increasing flows of displaced people

World systems theory: related to inequality

Risk: perceived as a risk to welfare, economy, culture, identity & belonging, law & order, sovereignty; risk for refugees (hardship, death, destitution, detention)

Borders: related to ‘debordering’ and ‘rebordering’

Scapes; ideoscapes, media scapes via IT

Interconnectedness; world of conflict & poverty migrates, modern forms of transport

Globalism: norms, institutions, structures


  • Forced Migration Online ‘What is Forced Migration?’, Available at: http://www.forcedmigration.org/about/whatisfm
  • Castles S., et al., (2003) States of Cnflict: Causes and Patterns of Forced Migration to the EU and Policy Responses, London, IPPR
  • Sales, R. (2002). “The deserving and the undeserving? Refugees, asylum seekers and welfare in Britain.” Critical Social Policy 22(3), pp. 456-478.
  • Anderson, Claire, Us and Them:
  • Bloch, A. and L. Schuster. 2002. Asylum and Welfare: contemporary debates. Critical Social Policy. 22(3), pp.393-414.
  • Bloch. A. (2002) The Migration and Settlement of Refugees in Britain. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bauman, Z. (2004) Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts, Oxford: Polity Press.
  • Cohen, R. and Kennedy, P. (2007) Global Sociology, 2nd edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan, Ch. 10, pp.249-252
  • Burnett, J. et al. (2010) State Sponsored Cruelty: Children in Immigration Detention. London: Medical Justice
  • Castles, S. et al. (2002) Integration: Mapping the Field. Home Office Online Report 29/03. London: Home Office
  • Jordan, B. and Duvell, F. 2003. Migration: The Boundaries of Equality and Justice. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Castles, S. and Miller, M. 2003. The Age of Migration: International Movements in the Modern World. 3rd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Da Lomba, S. (2010) Legal Status and Refugee Integration: a UK Perspective, Journal of Refugee Studies, 23 (4): 415-436.
  • Darling, J. 2009. ‘Becoming bare life: asylum, hospitality, and the politics
  • of encampment’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27, 649-665.
  • Dwyer, P. and D. Brown (2005) Meeting Basic Needs? Forced Migrants and Welfare. Social Policy & Society. 4 (4), pp. 269-380.
  • Dwyer, P. and Brown, D. (2008). “Accommodating ‘others’? Housing dispersed, forced migrants in the UK.” Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 30(3),pp. 203-218.
  • Knepper, P. 2007. British Jews and the racialisation of crime in the age of empire. British Journal of Criminology. 47, pp. 61-79. O’Neill, M. (2010) Asylum, Migration and Community. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Spencer, S. (2011) The Migration Debate. Bristol: Policy Press
  • Walters, W. 2004. Secure borders, safe haven, domopolitics. Citizenship Studies. 8(3), 237-60.

Draft: Lecture 8 (spring semester). Penal and migratory immobilities

Prisons, like refugee camps and immigration detention facilities, are peculiar institutions that function at one end of a continuum of social and physical mobility and immobility. The prison works to forcibly confine and isolate prisoners from the wider community, and then employs regimented and authoritarian regimes and architecture to further confine their mobility inside the prison.



For example:

  • Aboriginal youths arrested in regional Australia
  • Rejected asylum seekers incarcerated in the UK;
  • English sink estate residents incarcerated for involvement in the informal economy, including drugs


In the first example a typical trajectory involves conflict and poverty and irregular international migration, the conviction of the non-resident for a poverty-related crime, forced stasis through imprisonment and detention, and then forced deportation. This confined territorial circulation is also confined social mobility: the escape from insecurity and poverty promised through emigration or lowers the migrant to the status of criminal and then returns her to increasingly impoverished conditions.

Many of the people in English prisons come from sink estates marked by sustained poverty, and unemployment, often in former manufacturing and mining conurbations. These communities often comprise post-war immigrants from former colonies, new groups of asylum-seeking immigrants, and static British residents. The first two groups experience postcolonial and globalised displacement before entrenched stasis in the estate.  In the latter (English resident) aspect, there is a displacement from the habitas of manufacturing or mining, prior to entrenched stasis and social immobility.[1] In this regard there is a partial similarity with the confinements of Aboriginal people (refugees from the land they still inhabit). These multicultural communities circulate between the welfare, justice and penal systems and the informal economy.


[1] Simon Charlesworth, A Phenomenology of Working Class Experience, 2000. Charlesworth’s study of a working class community in Rotherham shows that the disappearance of traditional work and its way of life changes resident’s sense of place and ontological security so that those reliant on precarious and poorly paid labour come to be seen and experience themselves as ‘aliens among their own species’ 9.

Draft: Lecture 9 (spring semester). Elite, professional and investment migration



Duvell. F and Jordan, B. (2005) Migration: The Boundaries of Equality and Justice, London, Polity Press.

Radhakrishnan, S. Appropriately Indian: Gender and Culture in a New Transnational Class, Duke University Press, chapter 1


Draft. Lecture 10 (spring semester). Migration, Gender and Class.



Ehrenreich, B. And Hochschild, A. (eds) (2002) Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, Sex Workers in the New Economy. New York: Henry Holt.

Jacka, T. (2005), “Between “Rural Idiocy” and “Urban Modernity””, chapter one, Rural Women in Urban China, Gender, Migration and Social Change, Routledge

Binnie, J. (2004) The Globalization of Sexuality, London: Sage.

Naples, N. And Desai, M. (eds.) (2002) Women’s Activism and Globalization: Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics. New York: Routledge.

Friese, M. (1995) ‘East European women as domestics in western Europe’, Journal of Area Studies, 6, 194-202

Okin, S. M. (1999). “Is Multiculturalism bad for Women?” In: J. Cohen and M. Howard, eds. Is Multiculturalism bad for Women, Princeton NJ: University of Princeton Press

Kofman, Eleonore. (1999), “Female ‘Birds of Passage’ a Decade Later: Gender and Immigration in the European Union”, International Migration Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 269-299.

Phillips, A. “When culture means gender: issues of cultural defence in the English Courts,” Modern law review (2003), 66 (4), pp 510-531, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2230.6604002/abstract

Phillips, A.(2007) Multiculturalism without Culture. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Pollitt, K. (1999). “Whose Culture?” in J. Cohen and M. Howard, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?

Lecture 11 (spring semester). Human Trafficking: Sex work, gender, migration.


Human Trafficking: Sex Work, Gender, and Migration 



In the last few weeks of this semester focussing on globalization and migration, we have examined the idea that people migrate with different degrees of freedom and agency, and make their decisions to migrate in the context of constraining and enabling factors. We considered the ways in which the ability to migrate (and to choose to stay) can be analyzed in terms of categories of class, caste, nationality, gender, sexuality, and “race”. In week four we looked at investment and professional migration, including the examples of Chinese elite migration to Australia, Canada, and the US, and the circulation of Indian IT professionals between India and the US.

Last week (lectures & seminars 9) we built on our sociological knowledge of globalization and migration by looking at our first categories of forced migration: refugee, asylum seeker migration, and internal displacement.

We introduced the international norms and law that aim to protect and govern the movement of these kinds of forced migration, examined the different kinds of conflict and disaster that cause people to flee, as well as other push and pull factors; we examined the way that states respond to these forms of migration, and the way they are represented in the media and in political discourse. For the seminars, we discussed some ethnographic research on the forced migrants’ experience of precarity; we watched parts of the Italian documentary film Fire at Sea, had group discussions on the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and what we thought could be done to help solve it, and posted your ideas and peer comments on our online board.

This week’s lecture and some migration concepts/issues  revision

This week we are looking at other forms of forced and coerced migration including human trafficking, precarious migrant labour, and people smuggling.

Let’s just keep in some of the migration questions relevant to trafficking:

Do people migrate because of push or pull Factors? Or sometimes Both? Does the political economy and other factors give some structure their choices/actions? Is migration perceived as a problem and, if so, by whom?

In this lecture, we will consider

  • What is trafficking? How is it similar or different to smuggling?
  • How and why did the problem of human trafficking arise? How does that problematising relate to globalization?
  • Common misconceptions about migration and trafficking: Taking apart the myths
  • Responses to trafficking
  • What does trafficking mean for gender, agency, and globalisation
  • What is the difference between trafficking and migrancy?

In this week’s seminars we will discuss the readings, the two videos played today, and the visual images in the seminar power point to think about competing representations of gender, class, power, agency.

“Human Trafficking and “People Smuggling”

First, let’s look at the similarity and difference between trafficking and smuggling as forms of labour migration (migration for work).

  • Trafficking in persons is legally defined as

the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

  • Exploitation is legally defined as

at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs

(United Nations, The Palermo Protocol, 2000: Article 3)

So trafficking involves:

  • a kind of forced or coerced migration, or
  • the use of force or coercion after voluntary migration

Let’s have a look at an example

Loveth Nigerian sex trafficking victim

Loveth, 21, in a shelter for victims of sex trafficking in Italy. Loveth states she had been forced into prostitution for four years in Libya after being raped by her traffickers. She told The Guardian she was 17 when she left Nigeria, and that a madam had offered her work as a childminder in Europe. “Before they took me to Libya they used two boys to break my virginity and then in Libya they took me to a house and sent many men to sleep with me.”

In this example, the migrant labourer traveled voluntarily for what she claims she believed to have been legal work, and then found she had been tricked, so that she could be exploited.  So her migration is defined by the UN as a kind of trafficking. This is an example of the second kind of trafficking, exploitation after voluntary migration (not forced migration). But we can also say it was coerced, inasmuch as it is the madam’s (alleged) lie about ‘childminding work’ that encourages “Loveth” to migrate.

Let’s watch the following video from The Guardian Newspaper on trafficking of Nigerian women and girls to Italy:


Quick questions about the video

What kind of “human trafficking” are the women involved in? Can we tell whether the stories are true or not? How might we evaluate the claims?

In the international law, People smuggling is defined differently from human trafficking:

“procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal  entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” (UN, Article 3, Smuggling of Migrants Protocol).

So, one example of migrant smuggling might include the Libyan boatmen paid to bring migrants from northern Africa to southern Europe:

libyan smuggler migrants Ghat

As we discussed in last week’s lecture, asylum seekers often rely on smugglers to be able to cross borders, and many smuggling networks include friends and family members, as well as individuals and groups undertaking aspects of smuggling for business.

The term “trafficking” − a kind of forced migration− is both similar to and different from the term “people smuggling” (also the subject of its own protocol).

“Trafficking” and people smuggling” are similar in that both terms of international law defining forms of international migration as illegal.

However, they differ inasmuch as “trafficking” involves a kind of forced migration, while “people smuggling” involves consent, as the migrant contracts a party (the “smuggler”) to assist with her (or his) illegal migration.

As we will discuss below, it’s actually more complicated than this forced/free dichotomy suggests, in part because of the emphasis on “prostitution”. To begin to understand that, let’s have a look at how and why anti-trafficking law came into being.

The “war on migration”, the “war on terror” (modern origins of international and national law on human trafficking part 1) 

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson is a British sociologist specialising in critiques of some of the dominant ideas of “human trafficking”. In her book Modern Slavery — The Margins of Freedom (2015:3) she explains how anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling law and norms arose, in part, through the US and other state’s concerns about the risks that globalization posed for state power in the 1990s.

Tranational organized crime was represented as the expansion of illegal transactions at the expense of the legal economy and its supporting political institutions. Uncontrolled international immigration (including criminal migration and asylum migration) was viewed as threatening national sovereignty and in the guise of the possible migration of terrorists, as threatening national security.

As we saw in last week’s lecture states took a variety of legislative and administrative measures to restrict the flow of asylum seeker migration because of these perceived threats. The concern for sovereignty and security thereby combined ‘the war on terror’  with the ‘war on migration’,  while the latter was fought against migration from “the global south” in particular.

The “war on trafficking” then, emerged in the context of state’s efforts to control international movement and trade and to criminalise those they viewed as undesirable. The idea of “the forced movement of women and girls across borders and into prostitution … was parcelled up with phenomena such as smuggling, money laundering and drug and gun running” as a problem for interstate cooperation (O’Connell-Davidson, 2015:4).

This inter-state cooperation took form in international law including the following convention and its protocols.

The UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (2000)

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children 

The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air

The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and the Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition.

These have corresponding national legislation in many states, with the US legislation particularly influential as it seeks to impose its view of trafficking on other states and gain their compliance in “the war on trafficking”.  The US legislation reflects the interest of the religious and feminist groups in preventing sex work and sex work migration:

The Trafficking Victim Protection Act, (2000) (TVPA)

The Trafficking Victim Protection Amendment  Act (2008), also known as the William Wilberforce Act.

The TVPA “created a two-tier definition:

“severe forms of trafficking in persons,” in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion,

and “sex trafficking,” defined simply as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act”. Chin, Ko-lin. 31)

The “war on prostitution” (modern origins of international and national law on human trafficking part 2)

Ronald Weitzer is an American sociologist and criminologist with expertise in the politics of sex work and “human trafficking” in America. He takes a social constructionist approach to explaining the rise of the idea of human trafficking.  In the social constructionist approach, social conditions become problems as a result by interested parties making claims that may (and may not)  be based on existing social situations. The claims are more important than the conditions themselves.

One way of transforming claims into problems is via what Robin Cohen described as “moral panics” and the “moral crusades” designed to address them. A moral panic defines a particular condition as purely evil.

In his article”The social construction of sex trafficking” Weitzer explains how anti-trafficking developed in the form of a moral crusade against sex work (termed “prostitution”) and sex work in the US. As he recounts, the trafficking debates in the 1990s followed debates over sex work in the US, with an odd coalition of radical feminists and the religious right campaigning for the prohibition of pornography (beginning in the late 1980s), and federal and some state government actors cooperating via a national commission and crackdown on pornography. A similar coalition coalesced to advocate that trafficking should be defined in a way that recognized their belief that all prostitution is ultimately forced or coerced and abusive.

On the religious right stood the organizations Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals, Catholic Bishops Conference, Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Salvation Army, International Justice Mission, Shared Hope International, and Religious Freedom Coalition among others. These faith groups regard all forms of sex work as immoral and unnatural, as threatening God-given family values, the institution of marriage and the proper relationship between genders, love, sex, and social reproduction.

With them were the neo-abolitionist feminist groups, including the Coalition Against Trafficking Women (CATW), Equality Now, the Protection Project, and Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) (Weitzer, 2007). Rather than espouse the “family values” that their core beliefs denigrated, the radical feminist discourse worked in terms of prostitution as exploitative and objectifying, as a kind of (sexual) slavery, as a form of violence against women (Weitzer, 2007) that is “paradigmatic of a system of male power” (O’Neill & Scoular 2008). The right wing faith groups adopted much of this language in their efforts to gain greater legitimacy for the war on prostitution and trafficking.

Weitzer notes that these faith and feminist groups cooperated on their opposition to prostitution and pornography despite their strong differences on core issues (for each side) such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

The success of this faith-feminist coalition in the US was based, in part, on political opportunity, as they made their case during the George W. Bush presidency (2001-9). Bush, a Republican, drew on conservative Christian support, as well as on supporters of certain kinds of women’s right, sometimes combining protection of women’s right with “war-on-terror discourse, as was the case in the argument that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan was fought to protect Afghan women and girls (Berry 2003).

On the other side, pro-sex work advocates included the Network of Sex Work Projects, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, and the Sex Workers Project in New York. These groups argued that most sex work is consensual and that abuse has more to do with the conditions of work than with the actual work itself. These groups focussing on research about and support for women involved in sex work have been represented as “pro-prostitution” advocates by their opponents (Weitzer, 2007).

So, the international and US law on “trafficking” reflects the interests of those groups who seek to prohibit or abolish “prostitution”.

Strategies, measures, and monitoring to support the anti-trafficking norms and law

US anti-trafficking strategy

TVPA 2000 was aimed at accomplishing

“Three Ps” “Three Rs” (victim-centered)
prosecuting traffickers (a criminal justice approach) rescue
protecting victims (the humanitarian approach) rehabilitation
preventing human trafficking (strategic approach) reintegration

In accordance with TVPA, the Department of State is required to submit to the U.S. Congress an annual  Trafficking in Persons Report) on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons (Chin and Finckenauer, 2012; 201)

The U.S. Department of State also established the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (GTIP Office).

UN anti-trafficking strategy

The UN followed its protocol with:

efforts to encourage states to ratify (117 had ratified by 2014)

collaboration with local governments, as well as coordination of regional and
global anti-trafficking forums.

the UN Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking (UN.GIFT) (2007) that aims at expanding anti-trafficking efforts to include members of the business community, civil society, and celebrities.

Global Plan of Action (GPA) (2008) against trafficking, intended to align and further integrate all states’ efforts to end trafficking.

Neo-Abolitionist sex trafficking: issues of force, consent, and constraint

Criminal Justice Professors Chin and Finckenauer, (2012:30) observe that “trafficking victims” are represented as being

forced to work with little or no pay; they are beaten or raped; they and their families are threatened; they are deceived by being promised one job and then forced to work at another; they are controlled in their movements; their documents are held.

However, for the US State Department and others involved in anti-trafficking, women and girls must be considered victims of trafficking even if they had consented to prostitution.

Thus the US William Wilberforce Act (2008) further differentiates between “aggravated sex trafficking” and “sex trafficking”.

“Aggravated sex trafficking” is defined as involving the use of force, fraud, or coercion to cause a person to engage in prostitution.

“Sex trafficking”, is a lesser offense defined as persuading, inducing, or enticing an individual into prostitution (without the need for force, fraud, or coercion).

This latter provision makes all prostitution, including prostitution, entered into voluntarily, a form of criminal sex trafficking (see Chin and Finckenauer, 2012:269).

The idea that women should be considered as trafficked victims even if they “chose” prostitution has been subject to intense ongoing debate. On the side of the moral crusaders are aligned the Christian Right, determined to protect traditional family values against the sin of prostitution, some feminists determined to protect women from sexual objectification, and political actors seeking to define American liberalism against the perceived illiberalism of non-Western states.

In the view of this anti-prostitution coalition, women and girls who voluntarily engage in prostitution cannot be regarded as having consented for two main reasons.

Firstly, their livelihood choices may have been so overly constrained as to have negated the possibility of free choice:  typically, extreme poverty is regarded as constraining women’s choices to such an extent that prostitution seems an (or the only) viable option.

Other constraining factors may include shame and control common to patriarchal societies that limit women and girl’s opportunities to such an extent that sex work may seem to be a viable option.

In such cases, the decision is not regarded as consent for want of a viable option.

Secondly, if all prostitution is regarded as exploitation, then one cannot be considered to have consented to exploitation. On this basis, women and girls who agree to sex work have been duped (tricked) into consent, therefore their agreement is not informed consent. This means that the sex workers’ attitude (her/his idea that s/he is working voluntarily) is regarded as wrong: the “prostitute” is regarded as a victim whose ignorance or naivety has been exploited.

Examples; chickenheads; child prostitution …

Effectively, the legal (and abolitionist) definition of trafficking works to equate migrants’ sex work with exploitation (Doezema 2010).

This view of sex work (and migration for sex work) makes it impossible to distinguish between smuggling and trafficking (Skilbrei & Tveit 2008): a smuggled sex worker becomes a trafficking victim (regardless of her/his perspective or consent).

“Human Trafficking” = “Modern Slavery”?

American anti-trafficking policy is a reinvention of early 20th century campaigns against and myths of so-called ‘white slavery” and prostitution. In her book  Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters (2000) Dr. Jo Doezema explains that turn-of-the-century policy makers, advocates, and the media used the term “white slavery” to describe how male immigrants and men of colour forced white women into prostitution. The “white slavery” discourse fed off and encouraged anxieties about female sexuality and autonomy, race and immigration.

The US Congress White Slave Traffic Act, 1910, (also known as the Mann Act), prohibited the interstate transportation of women for “immoral purposes” and criminalized interracial sex (Langum 1994). Thus once enforced with legislation, the “white slavery” discourse enabled laws restricting women’s mobility, while representing these restrictions as having been enacted in the interest of protecting the supposed “trafficking victims” (Doezema, 2000).

The current “war against trafficking” also reinvents the 19th-century abolitionist (anti-slavery) campaigns, with the conflict between ‘slavery’ and freedom’ this time imagined on the site of the female migrant victim, who needs to be rescued from her often-Oriental and definitively UnAmerican enslavement.


Myths of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

This week’s seminar

Next Week’s Lecture (8)

Globalization: Precarious labour and migration

Please Note: This blog is educational. Any images or works represented or discussed are used for teaching purposes only.

Lecture (autumn semester). British and European responses to Islamic migration

Welcome, this week’s lecture will look at:

  • Islamic immigration & settlement in Europe & England & Wales
  • Numbers, Geography, Origins
  • Perceptions of host communities
  • Discrimination, Disadvantage & rights
  • Conflicts over Islam in England & France
  • Conceptualising discrimination

Demographics: England and Wales

  • 56 million residents in England and Wales
  • 86% were White; 8% were Asian/Asian British; 3% Black/African/Caribbean/Black British;T0.1% Arab
  • Top 10 countries of birth in Asia ranged from India (694,000 people) to Malaysia (65,000).
  • Of the residents of England and Wales in 2011, 59% were Christian; 25% had No religion; 5% were Muslim
  • Foreign-born population England & Wales; Christian (48%); Muslims (19%).
  • Muslim population growing faster than the overall population, with a higher proportion of children and a lower ratio of elderly people
  • In 2011, 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales, compared with 1.55 million in 2001


People in the US similarly overestimate the proportion of Muslims in the population, thinking it is 15% when it is actually 1%. They believe 56% are Christian when the true figure identifying themselves as such is 78%.Britons also underestimate the proportion of Christians, believing it is 39% when the correct figure is 59%.

IPSO MORI cited in The Guardian, Today’s Key Fact: you are probably wrong about almost everything, 29 October, 2014


Origins of Muslim people in Europe

  • Seven out of ten British Muslims are South Asian with the others being mostly of African or Arab descent.
  • Most Muslims in France have roots in North Africa,
  • Approx. two thirds of German Muslims are of Turkish descent,
  • Dutch Muslim population is mostly those of Moroccan and Turkish origin as well as refugees from the Middle East and Africa,
  • Muslims in Scandinavia from displaced people from war zones such as Palestine, Somalia and Iraq.

Geographic distribution

English cities/towns

London 1,012,823 (12.4%); Birmingham 234,411 (21.8%);Bradford 129,041 (24.7%)

Leicester (19%); Manchester 79,496 (15.8%) ONS (2011)

European cities

Amsterdam (14%); Antwerp (17%); Brussels (15+%); Cologne (12%); Copenhagen (10%); Malmo (20%); Marseille (20%); Moscow (12%); Paris (10+%)


Discrimination, disadvantage and rights

Britain 1997

  • Exclusion (from government, employment, management and responsibility);
  • Violence (physical assaults, vandalism of property, verbal abuse);
  • Prejudice (in the media, in everyday conversation),
  • Discrimination (in employment practices, and in provision of services, notably health and education) (Runneymede Trust, 1997)

Britain 2016

  • Higher poverty rates, including child poverty + persistently low wages
  • Nearly half of the Muslim population live in the ten most deprived districts in England. (2016)
  • British Muslim women have the highest rates of unemployment, despite higher rates of university participation and qualifications
  • Hate crimes against Muslims have risen since 1997
  • Muslims are over 13 percent of the prison population but only 5% of population.(Runneymede Trust, 2016)

France 2016

  • Hate crime up

e.g. after the January 2015 Paris attack 26 mosques attacked (firebombs, gunfire, pig heads, and grenades) (Stone, 2016).

Muslims tend to be ghettoized, living in often run-down Muslim banlieues, isolated from mainstream society

  • Muslims suffer discrimination, unemployment + poverty.
  • Muslims = 7% of the population; 70 percent of prison population is Muslim,(Alexander, 2016).

French policy: racism, ethno-religious discrimination

Article 1. France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. Constitution of France (1958)

EU regulations

  • EU Employment Directive (2003) outlaws religious discrimination at work
  • European Convention on Human Rights (2010), Article 9, Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • Article 10, Freedom of Expression
  • Article 14, Prohibition of Discrimination


  • under French law it is illegal to distinguish individuals on the grounds of their religion.
  • laïcité actively blocks religious interference in affairs of state. This dates back to the Revolution of 1789 ….
  • laïcité, it is argued, guarantees the moral unity of the French nation – the ‘République indivisible’.

… the proclaimed universalism of republican values, and in particular laïcité, can very quickly resemble the ‘civilizing mission’ of colonialism. … if Muslims want to be ‘French’, they must learn to be citizens of the Republic first and Muslims second; for many this is an impossible task. Hussey, 2014, 9.

Muslims viewed as Non-assimilating

Our former immigrants were Europeans; these are not.  Arab girls who insist on wearing chuddars (chador, veil or covering) in our schools are not French and don’t want to be…Europe’s past was white and Judaeo Christian.  The future is not.  I doubt that our very old institutions and structures will be able to stand the pressure (Dominique Moisi, in Judith Miller, 1991, p.86)

Banning Islamic Female Dress

  • French Foulard ‘headscarf’ affair’ (1989)
  • 1994 student demonstrations
  • France became the first country in Europe to ban the wearing of the headscarf in state schools (2004) .

‘Conspicuous’  religious items may not be worn in schools.  Forbidden items include: the Muslim headscarf, Sikh turbans, Jewish  skullcaps and large Christian crucifixes.

Burqa and Niqab banned in public 2011

April, France bans public wearing of the burqa, a full body covering that covers the lower face and has a meshed cloth over the eyes, and the niqab, which is identical except that a veil covers the lower face and the eyes are uncovered  (fines of 150 euros).

Burkini Bans 2016

30 French mayors ban the use of Burkini; municipal police can stop and fine any women in full-body swimsuits at the beach

More than 20 mayors have defied the state council ruling that the burkini bans are a “serious and manifestly illegal violation of fundamental freedoms”.

Laïcité and the bans; “protecting” the secular nature of the state.

  • ‘we must defend secularism – the next step may be separate train compartments for men and women, beaches reserved for one sex’ (Alain Juppe, former PM 2003)
  • the burkini is “the affirmation of political Islam in the public space”. (Prime minister, Manuel Valls, 2016)

French colonialism & the Hijab

  • Colonial “mission civilisatrice” saw a moral duty in colonisation: a self-elevating sense of responsibility to educate and liberate populations across North Africa.
  • The hijab represented as a symbol of Islamic oppression and a part of what made North African countries so inferior (in the French colonial discourse).
  • In Algeria the unveiling of women was a way of showing how France was liberating its female subjects from the “repressive tyrannies” of Islam, keeping the veil on, in some cases became a symbol of resisting colonial rule.
  • Some modern French politicians and feminists, see veiled Muslim women as, by definition, oppressed and in need of “saving”.

English policy: racism, ethno-religious discrimination

Race Relations Paradigm

  • Race Relations Act 1965,68,76 (protects against discrimination based on ‘race’ = biological race, nationality, ethnicity)
  • 1980s ‘race’ definition expanded to include mono-ethnic religious groups like Jews and Sikhs
  • Public Order Act (1986) incitement to racial hatred = criminal offence
  • Crime and Disorder Act (1998) and Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000) both maintain the existing definition of ‘racial group’.
  • Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Bill (2001) did not make incitement to religious hatred an offence, identifies Muslim communities as the seat of internal threat (Husband & Alam, 2012, 100)

Recognising religious discrimination

  • EU Employment Directive (2003) outlaws religious discrimination at work
  • 1998 Human Rights Act makes religious freedom a right in the UK
  • Equality Act 2010: protects against discrimination on the basis of religious belief, belonging, connection, perception of membership
  • law prohibits “incitement to religious hatred” and defines “religious hatred” as hatred of a group that may be determined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.

The Rushdie Affair

  • Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1989) regarded by many Muslims as blasphemous
  • Ayatollah Khomeini  issues fatwa

‘from the point of view of community relations, the fatwa was a disaster for the Muslims in Britain’ (Ruthven, 1991)

  • Book-burning in Bradford on 14th January 1989; perceived as echoing Nazi book-burnings in the 1930s

No one paused to inquire if book burning had the same meaning and significance in Islamic traditions, or whether the Bradford incident was largely symbolic, an expression of impatience rather than intolerance, and the result of misguided advice rather than hatred…all Muslims were implicated in the book burning (Parekh, 1990: 122).

  • many used the affair to highlight the incompatibility between Islam and the West: ‘The Western belief in human rights, which seems to lack limits, is alien to Islamic traditions’ (Taheri, 1990: 89)

‘The nature of the media coverage surrounding the ‘Rushdie Affair’ transformed the dominant view towards Muslims in Britain from Asians to Muslims.’ (Vertovec, 2002: 23)

Assimilationist and liberal British views

  • Assimilationist view of supporters of the fatwa

Disloyalty: greater respect for Khomeini than British law

Lack of patriotism; neglecting British reputation & feelings of fellow citizens

Fatwa support shows multiculturalism has failed

  • Liberal views:

Violation of liberal values; free speech, respect for law, tolerance, democracy, secularism (Parekh, 1999, 18)


Conceptualising discrimination against Islamic people in Europe

From Racism to Islamophobia

  • The “New Racism” (Barker, 1981) Cultural racism relating more to culture, ethnicity than biology
  • “Islamophobia” has: A religious and cultural dimension, but equally clearly, bares a phenotypical component. For while it is true that “Muslim” is not a (putative) biological category…neither was “Jew”. It took a long, non-linear history of racialisation to turn an ethno-religious group into a race. Naser Meer and Tariq Modood, 2012

Islamophobic views of Islam


Islam seen as a single monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to new realities.

  1. Separate

seen as separate and other – (a) not having any aims or values in common with other cultures (b) not affected by them (c) not influencing them.


Islam seen as inferior to the West – barbaric, irrational, primitive, sexist.

  1. Enemy

Islam seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, engaged in ‘a clash of civilisations’.

5. Manipulative

Islam seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.

  1. Criticism of West rejected

Criticisms made by Islam of ‘the West’ rejected out of hand

Discrimination defended   Hostility towards Islam used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.

  1. Islamophobia seen as natural

Anti-Muslim hostility accepted as natural and ‘normal’.

“Anti-Muslimism” (Fred Halliday, 2006)

  • Strategic anti-Muslimism

Relating to: terrorism, nuclear weapons, Oil; Arising from Western views of foreign Muslim societies

  • Populist anti-Muslimism

Relating to: Immigration, Assimilation, Cultural practices (veiling); Arising from the presence of Muslims within Western society

Anti-Muslimist Imagined Communities (Benedict Anderson)

  • National communities imagined in relation to Islamic “others”:
  • Negative othering:

Europe/West defined as “civilised”, “modern”, “tolerant”, “equitable” (feminist), lawful & peaceful

 in relation to

Islam/East defined as “barbaric”, “backwards”, “intolerant”, “inequitable” (“sexist”), illegal & violent

Orientalism (Edward Said)

Colonial period: the dominant “orientalist discourse”

  • Homo Islamicus: unreason, fanaticism, despotism, unreason, belief, stagnation, medievalism
  • Western civilisation: reason, freedom and progress towards perfectibility,

Al-Azmeh, Aziz, (1996)


Leiken, R S (2005) ‘Europe’s Angry Muslims’ in Foreign Affairs 84 (4) 120-135


Husband, C. and Alam, Y. (2011) Social Cohesion and Counter Terrorism: A Policy Contradiction? Bristol, Policy Press, (Ch. 4)

Al-Azmeh, Aziz, (1996), Islams and Modernities (Verso)

Barker, M (1981) The New Racism, London, Junction Books

Cherribi, Sam (2010). In the House of War: Dutch Islam observed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fekete, Liz, 2009, A Suitable Enemy, Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe (Pluto).

Field, D. (2007) ‘Islamophobia in contemporary Britain: the evidence of the pinion polls, 1988-2006’, Islam and Christian Relations, Vol. 18, No. 4, 447-77.

Halliday, F (1996) Islam and the Myth of Confrontation, London, I.B. Taurus.

Holloway, Lester, Islamophobia – 20 years on, still a challenge for us all, Runnymede Trust, online, 13 April, 2016

Huntingdon, S (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Hussey, Andrew (2014). The French Intifada. London, Granta Publications

Meer, Nasar, and Tariq Modood, 2012, “For ‘Jewish’ read ‘Muslim’? Islamophobia as a Form of Racialisation of Ethno-Religious Groups in Britain Today”, Islamophobia Studies, volume 1, issue 1 (spring).

Miller, Judith, (1991) “Strangers at the Gate: Europe’s Immigration Crisis,” New York Times Magazine, September 15

Tariq Modood, (ed.,) (2005), Muslim Britain: Communities under Pressure, London, Zed Books

Modood T, and Salt, J. (2011) (eds.), Global Migration, Ethnicity and Britishness, London & New York, Palgrave MacMillan

Nachmani, Amikam (2010). Europe and its Muslim minorities: aspects of conflict, attempts at accord. Brighton: Sussex Academic.

Kastoryano, Riva. “Religion and Incorporation: Islam in France and Germany”, International Migration Review, Vol. 38, No. 3, Conceptual and Methodological Developments in the Study of International Migration (2004), pp 1234-1255.

Kastoryano, R (2006) ‘French secularism and Islam: France’s headscarf affair’ in Modood, T. Trianafyllidou, A., and Zapata-Barrero, R. Multiculturalism, Muslims and Citizenship, London, Routledge, 57-69.

Kundnani, Arun, 2014, The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror, Verso.

Plenel, E (2016) For the Muslims: Islamophobia in France, Brooklyn NY. Verso.

Runnymede Trust, Islamophobia, A Challenge for Us All, 1997

Said, E, (2003) Orientalism, Penguin, London

Soysal, Y. N. (1997), ‘Changing Parameters of Citizenship and Claims-making: Organized Islam in European public spheres’, Theory and Society, 26, 509-527.

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