Read more about migration

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This article sets out to rethink the dynamics of the migratory process under conditions of globalization. Two main models of migration and incorporation dominated academic and policy approaches in the late twentieth century: first, the settler model, according to which immigrants gradually integrated into economic and social relations, re-united or formed families and eventually became assimilated into the host society (sometimes over two or three generations); second, the temporary migration model, according to which migrant workers stayed in the host country for a limited period, and maintained their affiliation with their country of origin. Globalization, defined as a proliferation of cross-border flows and transnational networks, has changed the context for migration, New technologies of communication and transport allow frequent and multi-directional flows of people, ideas and cultural symbols. The erosion of nation-state sovereignty and autonomy weakens systems of border-control and migrant assimilation. The result is the transformation of the material and cultural practices associated with migration and community formation, and the blurring of boundaries between different cat- egories of migrants. These trends will be illustrated through case-studies ofa number ofAsian and European immigration countries. It is important to re-think our understanding of the migratory process, to under- stand new forms of mobility and incorporation, particularly the emergence of transnational communities, multiple identities and multi-lay- ered citizenship.

International migration suddenly became a key issue in international politics at the beginning of the 1990s, when the breakdown of the bi-polar power constellation of the Cold War seemed to have opened the floodgates for vast new population flows. Right-wing politicians and sensationalist media con- jured up images of welfare states being ‘swamped’ and national identities being undermined by mass movements of impoverished people from East to West and South to North. Governments responded with tight border restrictions and international control measures such as the Schengen Agreement. In the meantime, exaggerated fears have died down, but issues ofmigration regulation and the effects of migration on both sending and receiving societies remain prominent in political and academic discourse. It is now widely recognized that cross-border population mobility is inextricably linked to the other flows that constitute globalization, and that migration is one ofthe key forces ofsocial transformation in the contemporary world. This makes it vital to understand the causes and characteristics ofinternational migration as well as the processes of settlement and societal change that arise from it.

In this article, I will start with a brief discussion of conceptual issues of migration research, and then focus on two main areas: likely trends in inter- national migration in the years ahead, and perspectives for migrant settlement and their consequences for multicultural societies and transnational communities. I will concentrate on receiving countries, but it is not possible to do so exclusively, as migration is a major force oftransformation in countries of on- gin, and therefore affects their international situation and their relations with receiving countries. Moreover, many countries are both sending and receiving countries for different types of migrants, or are in the process of transition from the one type to the other. Migration, development and international relations are thus closely linked (Castles, 1999, 2000a, 2OOOb)