The Scottish diaspora and Scottish independence

By: Rob McNeil,  Head of Media and Communications, Migration Observatory

(This piece was first published as a Migration Observatory Commentary)

Emigration and identity
Much of the discussion around the relevance of migration and migrants to the Scottish independence debate revolves around the effects of independence on current immigration policies in Scotland and the rest of the UK. But in the last two centuries, Scotland’s population change has been characterised more by emigration than by immigration.

????????????????While this long period of emigration is often discussed in the context of the loss of young, productive and talented people from Scotland, and in raising questions about whether the nation’s economic development suffered as a result, it also led to a huge Scottish ‘diaspora’ – communities of Scottish descent that have become established all over the world. This diaspora has significant implications for Scotland’s role in the world, from both a cultural and an economic standpoint.

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Posted in emigration, integration, migration, The Migration Observatory | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Reverse missionizing: Migration, Christianity, and civic engagement in London

By: Leslie Fesenmyer, ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellow

Much current public and policy discourse in the United Kingdom is concerned with migrants and with religion. When these topics converge, it is typically in relation to Muslim (im)migrants.  Yet, at Easter this year, Lady Warsi, the Foreign Office minister and minister for faith, ‘told the [Guardian] paper that immigration was making Britain more Christian  ”because some of the biggest church-goers are those whose heritage is in Africa and the Caribbean”.’  Her comments followed on the heels of Cameron’s Easter reception at which he proclaimed Britain to be a ‘Christian country’. He said, ‘Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago, I just want to see more of it…. And that is something I think we should all want to see: a bigger role for faith-based organizations in our society’.

If one looks at the statistics on church attendance in the United Kingdom, Lady Warsi is indeed correct about whom church-goers increasingly are. Brierley (2006) reports that, during the period between 1998 and 2005, non-white church attendance in England increased by 19%, while white church attendance decreased by 19%. And, the highest percentage of black churchgoers could be found in Greater London (Brierley 2006: 91, 99-100; see also Rogers 2013: 25-39). Growth in attendance comes primarily from Pentecostal churches: Brierley notes that these churches showed a 30% increase between 2005 and 2012, accounting for just over half (52%) of all churchgoers in London (2013: 6).

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Posted in Flows and Dynamics, immigration, integration, migration, research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why should social scientists in migration studies care about big data?

By: William Allen, Research Officer, Migration Observatory

Earlier this year, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced that the UK government was releasing £73 million for research which would harness the economic and social potential of Big Data. This term carries a great deal of buzz in business and academic spheres, although data and their analysis are obviously not new: whether as Census statistics, interview texts, or household surveys, data come in many familiar forms to social scientists. But ‘bigness’ often refers to three characteristics that differentiate it from so-called ‘small’ data: volume, variety, and velocity.

matrixVolume relates to the sheer size of datasets that potentially include millions of records. These datasets can also feature information that is drawn from many different sources (variety) as well as instantaneously aggregated as new data are constantly being created (velocity). The usefulness of such datasets depends on your perspective and purpose. In his widely cited 2008 Wired Magazine article, Chris Anderson rhetorically asked ‘who knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves’. But do they? Others argue that data never exist in ‘raw’ forms but rather are influenced by researchers who, whether intentionally or not, select and construct them in certain ways.

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Norway’s not so cuddly welfare state

By: Sarah Spencer, Senior Fellow

Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld

Photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld

Who might we expect to be more caring of migrants in need of health care than Norway, its welfare state renowned for comprehensive, cradle to the grave protection? Not so, it seems, if they are among the estimated 10,000 – 32,000 residents in Norway whose immigration status is irregular, whether adult or child. While law reform in Sweden extended irregular migrants’ access to health care in 2013, Norway’s trajectory since a rule change in 2011 has been the other way.

Emerging findings from a three year study on the provision of services to irregular migrants (PROVIR), shared at an Oxford round-table last week, revealed a child can be denied an operation by doctors required to take into account their possible removal from the country, notwithstanding that, with a further application pending, removal may never take place.  Patients can be deterred from seeking care by the cost of consulting a GP or the questioning of sceptical administrative staff. Some defer seeking treatment until their legal status is confirmed. Others borrow a friend’s residence permit or choose a doctor with a foreign name, hoping to find a sympathetic ear – findings which will sound familiar to those who, like Médicins du Monde or PICUM, monitor access to care for irregular migrants in Europe. Doctors in Norway, as in other jurisdictions, do not welcome the intrusion of immigration factors into their clinical role.

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Posted in human rights, immigration, integration, migration, research, Welfare | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Integration: a European research agenda

By: Ben Gidley, Associate Professor

In my contribution to Migration: The COMPAS Anthology, which discussed the concept of integration, I concluded with a series of unanswered questions which I think researchers have a duty to address. In this blog post, I take up those issues in order to introduce recent and current research by COMPAS and other scholars that starts to address these questions. I argue that these efforts constitute the research agenda on integration in the coming period.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst, I asked, how can we go beyond the limits of methodological nationalism to understand the local scale at which integration occurs? As Michael Keith has argued, migrants move between countries, but people move between places. Thinking about each of the domains in which integration occurs, it is clear that they take place at different scales, and most often at a scale smaller than the nation-state. Integration’s “ground zero”, as Ferruccio Pastore puts it, is the local. For instance, socio-economic participation means participation in labour markets which are local, or at most regional, rather than national; social interaction means interaction in real neighbourhoods, streets, libraries, play parks and sports fields. Place matters; space shapes the possibilities and constraints that structure integration processes.

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Posted in integration, research, Urban Change and Settlement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment