Objectives and methodology: This research project has 3 objectives:

1. To give as complete a quantitative picture as possible of the composition and typical profiles (amplitude, size, origin, etc.) of new migrations and new migrants based on systematic use of all available data banks.
2. To provide a better understanding of why (reasons for migration) and how (migration paths) the new migrants came to Belgium. Particular attention is paid to studying the causes of the amplitude of illegal immigration.
3. To understand and to explain the “migratory career”, the “life styles” and the integration patterns of new migrants into Belgian society, focusing on the key dimensions of employment and training, health, housing, education, participation and social interactions.

These research objectives was pursued for 6 target groups of new migrants, according to legal criteria, time of residence and migration channels: migrant workers (residence permit), family reunion (including marriage), asylum seekers, recognized refugees, persons whose status has been regularized (particularly following the 1999 law) and undocumented migrants. Eventually, two other topics were approached with less focus: the social and economic impact in the country of emigration, and the imaginary of immigration in the country of departure.

The project is separated into two parts. The first attempts to draft a synchronic table of new migrants by drafting typical profiles for the six categories (using existing statistical data) and the second will consider the question diachronically by analysing the various migration and integration paths (using existing qualitative data and data to be collected).

We propose a framework of analysis that incorporates three viewpoints: OPPORTUNITY STRUCTURES, RESOURCE MOBILIZATION (including social networks) and CAREERS of the new migrants. With the concept of opportunity structures, the idea is to study social, economic, institutional, cultural and political factors that organize both migration and installation processes. The opportunity structures are a framework in which resource mobilization can be deployed. Our main hypothesis is that the evolution of the migrant career of the new migrants results both from the opportunity structure opened from above by the institutions (political, economic, social and cultural) in Belgian society and by the mobilization of migrants’ resources (social, economic, cultural) from below. Consequently, the concept of a career reconciles structural approaches and individual approaches. We can hypothesize that the various groups of new migrants, given their specific migration path, have different economic and socio-cultural profiles and that these differences influence the way that they will mobilize their resources, particularly in the countries of origin. The encounter between the new migrants’ resources and the opportunity structure construct the careers of the new migrants. Initially, this theoretical approach is applied to the various target groups to create typical profiles. Secondly, the concept of a career is also  used to take account of the paths of new migrants through different legal status and identity.

This research mobilizes all quantitative and qualitative data currently available. To define the make-up and profile of the new migrants, we  use many federal, regional and community data banks and existing quantitative research. Qualitative methods, in-depth interviews and focus groups are needed for the diachronic analysis and the analysis of careers. We  do interviews with representatives of the six target groups and with migrants who have had several transitory situations in the five main urban centres (Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels, Liege and Charleroi). Finally, the object of this research project is not restricted to the migrants themselves. Other stakeholders are studied, in particular, employers, trade unions, social workers, officials, local office holders, to refine the analysis of the life styles and the integration of the new migrants.

The analysis of the social and economic impact in the countries of emigration, and the imaginary of immigration in the countries of departure are done further to two seminars in Brussels with colleagues coming from various countries of emigration.

Duration et funding: 1/12/2005 – 30/11/2008  – Belgian scientific policy

Researchers: Marco Martiniello (main project coordinator), Sonia Gsir (coordination assistant) and Frédéric Triest (research)

Partners: HIVA (KUL), GERME (ULB) and CEMIS (UA)

Research summary

Findings: Nouvelles migrations et nouveaux migrants en Belgique : rapport final = Nieuwe Migraties en Nieuwe Migranten in België : eindrapport  M. Martiniello – A. Rea – Ch. Timmerman (Eds.)  Gent : Academia Press, 2009. (full report)

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