COMPAS Seminar Series, Thursdays, Michaelmas Term 2015.
Notions of wellbeing, quality of life and human development have increasingly gained prominence in the social sciences in the recognition that standard economic measures are unable to adequately capture many important dimensions of life. In migration studies, however, the concept of wellbeing has not been fully integrated. Focussing on a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of migrant personhood, this seminar series aims to explores the potential of the concept of wellbeing for migration studies. It looks at migrants’ individual wellbeing and interactions with societal wellbeing in a range of settings across the life course. Papers will explore the impacts of family migration histories, gender, changing immigration policies, migrant incorporation within state institutions and access to benefits and services on migrants’ and societal experiences of care and wellbeing. These will be explored within a diverse range of institutional settings and through different life experiences, including familial separation, end-of-life care and death. Across the range of papers, debate will consider how wellbeing is affected by receiving countries’ institutions and practices, different family structures and transnational communities from cradle to grave.
Conceptualizing the inter-generational transmission of human wellbeing from a gender and life course perspective: The case of Latin American migrant mothers and their daughters in London, UK
Katie Wright, University of East London
The literature on intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality has tended to focus on material transfers whilst the role of non-material transfers has received less attention. This paper suggests that psychosocial transfers are also important as they may mediate or offset material transfers or deprivations. It is argued that a human wellbeing lens is potentially useful in extending work on psychosocial transfers as it examines what living well means over the life course and how it is constructed relationally. Specifically, this paper examines the inter-generational transmission of human wellbeing from a gender and life course perspective via the case of low-income Latin American migrant mothers and their daughters living in London, UK.
Intergenerational and inter-ethnic wellbeing of migrants: An analysis for the UK
Cinzia Rienzo, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)
This paper uses a UK nationally representative data set to examine the extent to which family migration history helps explains inter-ethnic variations in subjective well-being. We confirm that there is significant variation in well-being across ethnic group and across migrant generations. On average, recent migrants appear to have higher levels of well-being. We also find that, while language difficulties are associated with lower well-being, retaining cultural links is important: living in areas where one’s own ethnic group is well represented and having friends from the same ethnic group is associated with a higher level of well-being. Individuals’ choice to retain cultural ties and identity may alleviate feelings of cultural distance and difficulties with integration.
Migration and the health trajectories of immigrants and host country nationals
Osea Giuntella, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
Despite a lower average socioeconomic status, recent immigrants in many advanced economies have better health outcomes than the incumbent residents in the hosting countries. Paradoxically, this initial health advantage erodes with time spent in the destination country, despite immigrants’ socio-economic assimilation. In the talk I will discuss the role of selection, acculturation, socio-economic and occupational characteristics in explaining immigrants’ health trajectories presenting evidence from some of my recent work on migration and health in the US, UK, and Germany. Furthermore, I will examine different mechanisms through which immigration can have effects on the health of incumbent residents. First, immigration has important effects on the allocation of tasks and job-related risks in the labor market. Second, immigration can have effects on healthy behaviors by affecting both the demand and the supply of healthy products and by increasing product variety and access to healthy options in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Beyond the 'asylum-seeking market': Spaces of responsibility and moments of care within the privatisation of asylum accommodation
Jonathan Darling, University of Manchester
In this seminar I draw on my current research looking at how dispersal has worked across four UK cities historically, and how changes with the privatisation of provision has affected relations between asylum seekers and cities, between private providers and local authorities, and between local authorities and the Home Office. I will link to some of my past work around sanctuary, responsibility and generosity in terms of discussing spaces within cities that challenge the tensions of current governance structures and that enable different relations between asylum seekers and cities. Part of the story here is of the significance of local relations and contexts that are too readily ignored in top down dispersal processes and plans, so being able to speak across four different cities should enable some of these more hopeful stories to come to light.
The financial requirements in the UK immigration rules: What the Children’s Commissioner’s report tells us and its relevance to the legal challenge
Helena Wray, Middlesex University
This seminar will focus on a report written by Middlesex University and Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner, which investigated the impact on children of increased financial requirements for the admission or stay of spouses which were introduced into the immigration rules in 2012. There will be a discussion of the report’s findings, including on the number of children affected, the characteristics of the families involved, the effects on them of the financial requirements and of the report’s critique of the government’s arguments for the requirements. It will also discuss the methodology used and the challenges involved in carrying out a project of this kind, and will reflect on the light shed by the findings on current government approaches to family-based immigration.
The talk will also reflect on the position of evidence of this kind in political and legal contestations of immigration laws, notably the current human rights legal challenge (which will be heard in the Supreme Court in 2016).
Migrants, conditionality and welfare in the UK
Peter Dwyer, University of York
Conditionality matters for migrants. First, in a broad sense i.e. the ways in which UK immigration and welfare policies intersect to establish and structure the diverse rights and responsibilities of different migrant groups living in the UK. Second, in respect of more focused understandings of welfare conditionality and the linking of an individual’s rights to social welfare benefits and services to specified behavioural requirements. This seminar explores how these two aspects of conditionality play out in migrants’ interactions with welfare agencies. Discussions will draw on early analysis of new qualitative data generated in first wave interviews with 54 migrants who are one cohort within a larger, repeat qualitative longitudinal panel study being conducted as part of the ESRC funded ‘Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions Support and Behaviour Change’ project (see www.welfarecondtionality.ac.uk)
Love and Legality: Questions of wellbeing for irregular male migrants and their citizen partners
Melanie Griffiths, University of Bristol
For academics, politicians and NGOs alike, the issues seen to relate to irregular migrants, especially if they are male, tend to revolve around questions of legality, criminality and mobility. Little concern is generally afforded to their emotional lives and wellbeing. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with UK-based precarious male migrants with British or EU citizen partners and children, this talk considers the effect of having family ties in the UK on the men’s experience of the immigration system, as well as the impact of immigration concerns on family life itself. A variety of repercussions are identified in relation to the formation and sustainability of partnerships and families, including in terms of suspicion over motives, the threat of enforced separation and other relationship strains. Particular attention is given to immigration detention and the prohibition of employment as examples of ways in which the immigration system reaches into the heart of family life and produce gendered implications for the men’s ability to be the parents and partners they wish to be. The talk also considers the wellbeing of the British and European women in mixed-citizenship couples, exploring the impacts of the immigration struggles of their loved ones on the women’s sense of security, privilege and belonging as citizens. Considering wellbeing in the context of relationships illuminates the significant and wide-ranging impact of the immigration system on family lives and gender roles. Laying bare the fallacy of migrant/citizen binaries, such impacts not only affect irregular migrants, but also the citizens close to them, who are not themselves subject to immigration control but whose lives are nonetheless shaped by immigration objectives.
The time of our lives: Migration and slow pain
Yasmin Gunaratnam, Goldsmiths College
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