Migration and Inequality

Migration and Inequality

Mirna Safi
Polity Press, 2020
  • Book Cover (Vasco Gargalo & Rachel Moore). Image Motortion Films (Shutterstock)Book Cover (Vasco Gargalo & Rachel Moore). Image Motortion Films (Shutterstock)

Migration and Inequality

Mirna Safi (Associate Professor, Sciences Po - OSC)

In a world of increasingly heated political debates on migration, relentlessly caught up in questions of security, humanitarian crisis, and cultural “problems”, this book radically shifts the focus to address migration through the lens of inequality. It therefore aims at bridging the gap between three relatively distinct social science fields: migration ans immigration studies, ethnic and racial studies, and social stratification and inequality studies.

Taking an innovative approach, Mirna Safi offers a fresh perspective on how migration is embedded in the elementary mechanisms that shape the landscape of inequality. She sketches out three distinct channels which lead to unequal outcomes for different migrating and non-migrating groups:

  • the global division of labor
  • the production of legal and administrative categories
  • the reconfiguration of symbolic ethnoracial groups.

Respectively, these channels categorize migrants as “type of workers,” “type of citizens” and “type of humans”. Examining this intersection across the U.S. and Europe, she shows how studying international migration together with inequality can challenge nationally established paradigms of social justice.

Re-centering the debate on migration around issues of inequality and social justice is capable of changing the predominant narratives in public policy discussions. But reframing the narrative is not enough; institutional change is also crucial...

Published by Polity Press, January 2020, 216 p., ISBN 9781509522118.


Chapter 1: From National to Migration Societies - Chapter 2: Migration and Elementary Mechanisms of Social Inequality: a conceptual framework - Chapter 3: The Economic Channel: Migrant Workers in the Global Division of Labor - Chapter 4: The Legal Channel: Immigration Law, Administrative Management of Migrants and Civic stratification - Chapter 5: The Ethnoracial Channel: Migration, Group Boundary-Making and Ethnoracial Classification Struggles - Conclusion: Migration, an Issue of Social Justice

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