Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
RN35_03b: Methodological Frontiers: Researching Migration in the Digital Era
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Lena Kahle, Stiftung Universität Hildesheim
Location: BS.G.27
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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Algorithmic Racism and Data-Driven Politics: Why Migration Research Needs to Take the Challenges of New Data Worlds Seriously

Kenneth Horvath

University of Lucerne, Switzerland

Migration research has so far neglected the crucial methodological challenges linked to the emergence of big data, artificial intelligence, and digitization. Based on recent neopragmatist studies of emerging data technologies and infrastructues, this talk offers a tentative reading of the implications of these new data worlds for migration research. The argument is developed in three steps. First, current debates on "big data and the social sciences" are briefly reviewed, focusing on their quintessential claim: the social sciences are about to lose authority and voice in the interpretation of societal developments. Second, recent collaborations by supra-national organisations (such as the IOM) and NGOs with new data sciences are critically examined regarding their theoretical and political underpinnings. The focus is on (i) "algorithmic racism", i.e. discriminatory classifications that are due to atheoretic and politically unreflective analytical procedures and (ii) over-simplified notions of "migration" entailed in these initiatives. While algorithmic racism is already noticeable as a very real threat to minority and migrant populations all over the world, over-simplified notions of migration point to the key challenge for migration researchers: they need to become critically engaged in ongoing debates if decades of empirical research and theory building shall not be lost for making sense of migration realities. Third, I argue that the current critical moment is also a window of opportunity. Getting involved with new data worlds may open new perspectives (i) for moving beyond methodological nationalism (so deeply ingrained in more traditional data sources), (ii) for advancing alternative and more exploratory styles of doing quantitative research on migration issues, and, perhaps surprisingly, (iii) for combining qualitative and quantitative research approaches in novel and promising ways.

Tracing Human Mobilities Beyond State Borders: Big Data to Reveal Bordering People, Their Transnational Mobilities and Belonging

Olle Järv, Kerli Müürisepp, Samuli Massinen

University of Helsinki, Finland

Research on borders, bordering people and transnational living has gained particular importance in line with globalization and unprecedentedly fast increase in mobilities of everything (people, objects, and information) that are transcending the borders of states and societies. Besides migration flows, we witness the fast emergence of multi-local living and transnational mobilities – people regularly cross state borders to conduct daily activities related to work, socializing, shopping, services and leisure. This shapes societies, but also people’s feeling of belonging and identity, especially in the borderless European Union.

With the growing complexity of bordering processes, scholars are challenged by gaining more thorough understanding about spatial practices and social interactions of people crossing borders – knowledge crucial for ensuring cross-border cooperation and governance, and fostering integration and social cohesion. However, not much is known due to lack of suitable data (collection methods). We argue that an intriguing Big Data approach could provide additional insights for understanding transnational mobilities and multi-local living as it is vastly being applied in the broad field of social sciences.

We propose a conceptual framework for implementing social media data to reveal, examine and reason: 1) transnational mobility flows and individuals’ spatial practices; 2) individuals’ experiences and perceptions on multi-local living; 3) individuals’ social engagement and their feeling of belonging; and 4) new emerging transnational spaces. We demonstrate the initial findings on how openly available Twitter data reveal transnational mobilities in the Greater Region of Luxembourg. We critically assess our workflow and highlight avenues for further research.

Studying The Transnationalism Of Polish Migrants Through Facebook - Whom May We Survey And How Transnational Are They?

Steffen Pötzschke

GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany

During the last decades, migration scholars became increasingly interested in aspects of transnationalism. At the same time, some traditional sampling frames and methods have become less reliable, especially in cross-national settings. Therefore, researchers are increasingly investigating new methods and strategies to amend established approaches. The sampling of survey participants via social networking sites (SNS) is one such possibility. It stands to reason that this method should be particularly helpful in research on migrant transnationalism since it should facilitate the recruitment of individuals who mainly communicate using internet-based technologies (allowing for frequent and cheap transnational communication) and/or who are highly mobile. Hence, subpopulations who might not be reached with more established methods (e.g. register based sampling).

This paper uses data from an online survey of more than 1.100 Polish migrants in five European destination countries. All participants were recruited through Facebook. Rather than describing the sampling method as such, the contribution examines selected features of the realised sample. The focus is first on general sociodemographic aspects before the level of transnationalism amongst the interviewed migrants will be examined. The analysis of the latter employs a multidimensional understanding of the phenomenon which differentiates, for example, between participants’ embeddedness in transnational social networks, their transnational mobility and communication behaviour. Besides the discussion of the respective results, the paper aims to provide researchers with information which will help them to decide whether (additional) recruitment via SNS could improve the overall sample quality in their future studies examining either transnationalism or more general migration-related topics.

Belonging in the Times of Brexit. Combining Synchronous and Asynchronous Interviews in a Longitudinal Perspective.

Agnieszka Trąbka

SWPS University, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Despite the fact that the Brexit referendum took place almost three years ago, its impact on the situation of the EU migrants living in the UK remains unknown. Unsurprisingly, research conducted so far in this domain report their uncertainty regarding the actual conditions and consequences of Brexit and their questioned sense of belonging to the host country (Lulle et al. 2017, Tyrrell et al. 2017). This paper, based on the preliminary results of the project “CEEYouth: The comparative study of young migrants from Poland and Lithuania in the context of Brexit” has two main objectives. First, it aims at portraying how youngCEE migrants living in the UK cope with the above mentioned uncertainty, how they negotiate their sense of belonging and how they make important life decisions in the context of ‘undeliberate [in]determinacy’ (McGhee et al. 2017). Secondly, and more importantly, it aims at presenting the methodological scenario of combining synchronous and asynchronous interviews in a longitudinal perspective in order to dynamically analyse how the unfolding consequences of Brexit affect life trajectories of young migrants. We argue that asynchronous interviews allow for more flexibility in terms of timeline and logistics and thus they give the opportunity to quickly react on the unravelling consequences of Brexit and capture spontaneous reactions participants. Moreover, they are particularly fitting for researching young, mobile and geographically dispersed populations. Combining this method with traditional, face-to face interviews is a way to overcome some of the challenges of on-line interviewing.