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March 16 , 2010

Qualitative Methods in Migration Studies

A Critical Realist Perspective


Recent years have witnessed growing interest in a series of issues related to migration, including identity formation and change, the role of social capital and social networks, ethnic discrimination, racism and xenophobia, socio-political participation and mobilisation and the complex nature of the causal mechanisms linked to migration – issues that are better highlighted and investigated using qualitative methods. Moving away from the quantitative and empiricist-positivist approaches that have often characterised migration research, Qualitative Methods in Migration Studies explores in a concise but comprehensive way the key issues involved in researching migratory phenomena in a qualitative manner. It addresses themes including the basic characteristics of contemporary migration, qualitative research into social processes related to migration, and the relationship between theory, research design and practice. Drawing upon empirical case studies and a series of real and hypothetical examples, the book develops a critical realist alternative both to empiricism and interpretivist, social constructionist and post-structuralist relativism in qualitative migration research. With special emphasis on the meta-theoretical dimensions of qualitative research practice, this volume connects qualitative findings to policy formation and ‘politics making’, exploring the multiple dimensions involved in researching migratory phenomena, such as ontology, epistemology, methodology, ethics and research practice. As such, it will be of interest to students and researchers in migration across the social sciences.

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