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Bridging the divide: the gap between the study of internal and international migration, with an Italian example

posted on 2023-06-09, 06:15 authored by Russell King, Francesca Conti
Migration scholarship falls into two distinct camps, one devoted to the study of internal migration, the other to international migration. Currently, international migration dominates the academic landscape of migration studies, even though, on a global scale, more people move internally than internationally. Very few attempts have been made to merge the two migration traditions, either in terms of developing common theoretical frameworks (though this convergence was more evident in earlier theorisations of migration deriving from economics and push-pull models), or through studies which analyse the functional links and complementarity between the two migration types. For instance, to what extent can internal and international migration be considered alternative strategies within a migration decision-making framework? How about migrants who are both internal and international migrants, one form preceding the other? This paper is in two main parts. The first overviews various articulations between internal and international migration, both theoretically and empirically. The second part presents a casestudy of Italian graduate migration, comparing those who move externally (to London) with those who move internally (from South to North within Italy). A small subsample of graduate non-movers is also included. Analysing the interviews, two terms which surfaced consistently were mentalità, meaning the Italian way of doing things, at a range of levels from the national to the family; and raccomandazione, meaning the necessity to have someone supporting you in order to get a job. Whilst both types of migration were driven essentially by economic factors, the internal movers saw their relocation purely in these terms, and therefore as a ‘forced move’, whereas the emigrants also saw their migration as an adventure and means of self-realisation.


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Malmö University

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  • Geography Publications


Willy Brandt Working Papers in International Migration and Ethnic Relations No. 1/13


Malmö University

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