The cultural and economic logics of migration

Authored by: Jamie Coates

Routledge Handbook of Asian Migrations

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  January  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138959859
eBook ISBN: 9781315660493
Adobe ISBN:


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The logic behind why people move is a question that continues to puzzle the field of migration studies. Historically, research largely focused on the economic logics of migrants, suggesting that utilitarian calculations largely structure people’s motivations. More recently, the role culture plays in perpetuating these initially economic logics of migration has attracted greater attention, particularly in relation to transnational patterns of human mobility. This chapter introduces readers to the historical foundations underpinning approaches to the cultural and economic logics of migration in the social sciences and humanities. After this introduction it continues the debate by destabilising the clear division between cultural and economic life, which is often perpetuated in migration studies. Taking the history of Chinese migration within East Asia as its example, this chapter demonstrates how migrants’ economic logics can also be understood as a form of cultural imagination. It shows how cultural and economic phenomena are increasingly entangled in our world, and also questions whether they were ever distinguishable.

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