Abstract: Understanding the causes of migration lies at the core of migration research but remains an enigmatic issue. How can we possibly answer the question ‘why do people migrate’? There is enormous variation in individual circumstances and motivation, so this is essentially a context-dependent empirical question. But it a general theoretical challenge to find out what types of answers we should be looking for. It is clearly inadequate to equate administrative grounds for admission-such as family, labour, or refuge-with grounds for migrating, but doing so remains the dominant mind set. In this seminar I will present work in progress that aims to differentiate reasons for migrating in other ways. I start with the observation that migration desires do not necessarily lead to actual migration, and argue that we therefor need to examine why people want to migrate (or not), regardless of whether they subsequently succeed. I then present elements of a tentative conceptual framework that categorizes and disaggregates reasons for migration.
Speaker biography: Jørgen Carling is Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). His research addresses a broad range of themes related to migration and transnationalism, including migration theory, migration management, transnational families, remittances, and the links between migration and development. Among his most influential work is the analysis of aspiration and ability in international migration, and the associated phenomenon of ‘involuntary immobility’. He has extensive fieldwork experience and combines ethnographic data with statistical analyses in his research. He has published in most of the leading migration studies journals, including Ethnic and Racial Studies, Global Networks, International Migration, International Migration Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and Migration Studies as well as in disciplinary journals in anthropology, economics, geography, and political science. He has led academic research projects with a combined budget of more than $7.5M and carried out policy-oriented work various governmental and international agencies. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (2003), the University of Oxford (2005), the National University of Singapore (2010), and Maastricht University / UNU-MERIT (2016). He received his doctorate in human geography from the University of Oslo, Norway in 2007 and attained the status of full professor in 2011.