Summary and Keywords
International migration is widening, deepening, and speeding up as described within a set of theories that have been developed by different disciplines of science. The sociological theories of migration go back to the concept of intervening opportunities, which suggests that the number of migratory movements to a destination is directly proportional to the number of opportunities at that distance and inversely proportional to the number of intervening opportunities. Economic theories of migration, meanwhile, generally focus on international labor migration, while the geographical theories of migration concentrate on the role of distance in explaining spatial movements. Finally, socioeconomic theories of international migration are derived from a Marxist political economy emphasizing the unequal distribution of economic and political power in the global economy in a world where the rich are getting richer by exploiting the poor. Taken together, these theories explain the causes of proactive migration. However, the literature on the opposite scenario—reactive or forced migration—is also quite extensive, linking the issue to international security and human vulnerability, humanitarian intervention, and to the so-called “root causes” that underline the social and international forces that generated refugees. But these theories only tell part of the story, as migration is a dynamic phenomenon. Once it begins, international movement of people perpetuates across time and space, and the causes of these perpetual movements can be rather different from those that initiate them. As it evolves, it creates new conditions that become both the means and the ends of new migrations.
Keywords: international migration, proactive migration, reactive migration, forced migration, sociological theories, economic theories, geographical theories, socioeconomic theories, perpetual migration
Access to the complete content on Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. If you are a student or academic complete our librarian recommendation form to recommend the Oxford Research Encyclopedias to your librarians for an institutional free trial.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.