Sociology

Migrants, Ethnicity, and Super-diversity

Module code: 805L5
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay

Ethnicity has been a long-standing concern in the domain of migration. Many scholars of migration study migrants along the lines of ethnic groups and look at their experience through an `ethnic lens' being interested in the emergence and role of ethnic networks, identities, and communities. Yet to what extent does ethnicity matter? Migrants often move to 'super-diverse' global cities and build complex relationships that seem to be insufficiently or inadequately captured by the language of ethnicity. Non-ethnic processes, identities and attachments have gained increasing attention in today's globalised societies. This module will critically examine the close link between migration and ethnicity tosee how ethnicity achieves prominence in key areas of migrants' lives, and to identify alternative approaches to ethnicity and ethnic-group centred perspectives on migration. We will discuss these aspects with specific reference to the European context, which offers a fruitful site for comparing 'new' and old migrants and minorities (from European and non-European countries), and invites reflection on migration theories developed in the American context. 

The overall aim of the module will be to encourage a nuanced understanding of the variable role of ethnicity in migrants' experience. We will first look at theoretical perspectives on ethnicity and the critique of the 'ethnic bias' in migration research. We will then examine different domains where ethnicity becomes prominent (migrant networks, economies, politics and identities). In the third part, we will evaluate alternative (non-ethnic) approaches to studying migrants, in the context of increasingly 'super-diverse' European cities and societies, to see how they fulfil their promise. We will look at the case of intra-EU migration (from old and new member states) as well as mixed neighbourhoods where old and new migrants and minorities cross paths to assess the extent and limits of 'everyday' forms of cosmopolitanism.

Our weekly topics are:

  1. Ethnicity: theoretical perspectives
    Ethnicity: culture and boundaries
  2. 'Methodological ethnicity' and migration studies
    Ethnicity in migration studies
  3. The migration process and migrant networks 
  4. Ethnic communities in global cities 
  5. Ethnicity and economic incorporation: migrant economies 
  6. Ethnicity and political incorporation: migrant politics
  7. Ethnic identities
    Beyond ethnicity? Alternative approaches to migration
  8. Diasporas and transnational communities
  9. 'Everyday' cosmopolitanism: Europeanisation and 'Eurostars'
  10. Essay discussion 
  11. 'Everyday' cosmopolitanism: Post-Accession Eastern European migrants 
  12. 'Super-diversity' and mixed neighbourhoods

Module learning outcomes

  • demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and critical appreciation of key theoretical debates around ethnicity
  • Critically evaluate the links between migration and ethnicity in different domains of activity
  • Demonstrate critical awareness of the variable role of ethnicity in migrants everyday experiences
  • Assess the strength of challenges, and alternative approaches, to ethnicity and ethnic-group centred studies of migration
  • Evidence critical awareness of similarities and differences between migration traditions and research agendas in European and American contexts
  • Apply relevant theories creatively to specific case studies. (NB: I have removed ‘from the European context’.)