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New article published in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik on "Perspectives of flow and place: rethinking notions of migration and mobility in policy-making"


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Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik (2023) Perspectives of flow and place: rethinking notions of migration and mobility in policy-making, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2023.2278400



Why do some migration policies cause controversial debates while others are barely noticed? And why do migration policies consistently fail to meet their stated objectives? This paper argues that identifying the underlying perspective that informs migration policy-making can be a productive tool to answer these questions. I start by reviewing notions of ‘migration’ and ‘mobility’ used in political and scholarly discourse and argue that the ways of differentiating between the two entail not only biases related to norms of sedentariness or social hierarchies, but also blind spots for how states and individuals perceive cross-border movements. As an alternative, I propose to conceptualise ‘migration’ and ‘mobility’ as categories reflecting perspectives that either normalise sedentariness and fixed borders or movement and fluidity. In a second step, I combine the two perspectives with the perceptions of the state as the main regulator of movement and the individual on the move, leading to four ideal-typical situations of aligned and non-aligned perspectives on human movement. This notion of intersecting perspectives can help us explain both policy-making processes and the impact of migration policies. This is illustrated through two examples of EU-level policies on intra-corporate transferees on the one hand and family reunification on the other.