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Last update: december 2021


I. Justification

   The various disciplines that go to make up the social sciences, as they are considered by the International Social Science Council, have, in the course of the evolution of their theoretical approach, tackled diverse aspects both of migration and of its consequences for social, economic, cultural and political changes. However, most of the existing literature makes reference to the concept of “push-pull” which is essentially rooted in the literature on labour migration. In essence this draws on the experience of internal and international migration in industrial and rural societies and considers individuals who move to areas that offer greater job opportunities from those that have fewer; a process that takes place relative to geographic, economic and social advantages and opportunities. Now, human mobility is related also to consumption, so we observe a diversity of types of human movement connected to leisure, new lifestyles, lifecycle stages, etc. Changes in post-industrial society require that the concept of migration is re-examined for there is a tendency for differences between labour and leisure mobility to become less defined, something that also occurs with places of work, leisure, education and training.

   These changes in the nature of human mobility are being worked out in the late twentieth century and in the beginning of the twenty-first in the context of globalisation. It is readily apparent that globalisation, however defined, is increasingly important in terms of political change (the emergence of international and regional organisations), technological change (in transport and telecommunications) and economic change (in the rise of transnational corporations, and the service sector, most evident in the finance industry and trade). These changes have also influenced social and cultural change, and been affected by increasingly global media. This has had major ramifications for all facets of human mobility. There are intense interrelationships between the global and the local, and population mobility constitutes one of the most significant channels through which this is expressed. Places once linked by labour migration are becoming interrelated via diverse forms of mobility, generated both by, on the one hand, consumption and lifestyle changes, and on the other, by political events. An example of the former is the way that retirement migration is becoming internationalised, or the way new peripatetic lifestyles are evolving based on rapid transport and electronic communication. An example of the latter is the escalation of refugee movements, in response to the working out of a new world (dis)order in the aftermath of the ending of the cold war, and the emergence of new forms of intra- and inter-national conflict, including those of an ethnic and religious nature. These new forms of mobility are simultaneously occurring in the context of substantial changes in more historic forms of economic migration.

   The aim of this proposal is to direct greater attention to a new reading of traditional population movements and to consider new forms of mobility with reference to the migration of workers occupied in new types of production, stemming from economic globalisation, as well as types of mobility deriving from the internationalisation of consumption and new patterns of leisure and tourism. In the latter case, changing patterns of (mass) tourism provide a clear indication of a tendency towards post-fordist consumption and, therefore, towards a more differentiated and fragmented mobility.

   The increase in human mobility may be linked to the following: (i) To differential rates of economic growth which have increased the imbalance in development in different regions of the world. (ii) To the continuing (if now declining) growth of population in developing countries and, consequently, to the wide range of labour that can find no outlet in its region of origin. (iii) To technological innovations, especially in the areas of transport and communications, which enable long distance movements at a low cost while remaining in contact with places and communities of origin. (iv) To means of mass communication which have reached the most remote corners of the world and which make it possible to know more fully the economic conditions and the quality of life in other regions. (v) To political and other conflicts that have increased the extent of forced migration.

   Whilst those mobility patterns that are particularly influenced by political considerations are becoming more volatile, and therefore difficult to predict, most new forms of mobility can be described in terms of processes that are subject to analysis. Where possible, the Study Group will elaborate new methodologies for estimating future human mobility of the various types.

   The formulation of this proposal is supported by the conclusions of the Work Group on Population Processes in the Urban and Regional System (RUREPOP) and those of the ad hoc Group on the role of Tourism in the Process of Urban and Regional Restructuring (RURETOUR) which are part of the Research Programme on Regional and Urban Restructuring in Europe (RURE) launched by the European Science Foundation at the end of the eighties and in which around 65 groups of geographers from European universities and research institutes have participated.

   The formulation of this proposal is the outcome of lengthy debate initiated in August 1996 by Arie Schachar, Chairman of RURE and Armando Montanari, Chairman of RUREPOP and RURETOUR. Proposals and suggestions were re-elaborated in a programme proposal discussed during a meeting which was held in Rome, April 9 and 10, 1999 with the participation of Prof. Manuel G.M. de Araújo, Prof. John Connell, Prof. Russell King, Prof. Armando Montanari, and Prof. Arie Schachar and with the support of Prof. Carminda Cavaco, Prof. William Clark, Prof. Heinz Dieter Heidermann, Prof. Yoshitaka Ishikawa, and Prof. Jeong Rock Lee who could not be present.



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