Migration, poverty and inequality

Submission status

Throughout history, peoples have migrated from one place to another, prompted by different factors and using different means to reach their destinations. Migration has therefore long been a topic of academic and social enquiry, not to mention the focus of polarising political debate.

In Europe the issue of migration was brought to significant prominence during 2015-2016, when an unprecedented influx of more than one million refugees and migrants arrived into the EU, most of them fleeing war in Syria and other countries. More broadly, it is estimated that globally more than 65 million people are now officially displaced from their homes—the highest figure recorded by the United Nations since the Second World War.

People re-locate for various reasons, both legal and illegal, often risking their lives to escape from political oppression, persecution, war and poverty, as well as to be reunited with family and to benefit from entrepreneurship and education. Other factors, such as climate change, are increasingly becoming drivers too.

This research collection aims to look specifically at the relationship between poverty and migration.

Much migration, within and across borders, is driven by poverty and the hope for better well-being and a better quality of life. Yet migration itself is risky and can open up new social, economic, political and cultural vulnerabilities in the lives of migrants. The periods spent living in migrant camps, for example, are frequently marked by multiple deprivation. As soon as migrants have reached their destination — if they reach it at all and are not detained elsewhere — they are confronted with new difficulties and often end up belonging to the poorest and most disadvantaged groups within their new society. Migration can therefore be both an instrument for overcoming poverty — but it can also lead to poverty and social exclusion. These two very general trends are differentiated according to social and geographical space, as well as the backgrounds, socio-economic position, gender, race and age of migrants. After all, the wealthy scientist who moves with his family from Europe to the USA is just as much a migrant as the underage refugee from southern Africa who is stuck in a camp in Libya for several months or years and has almost no economic prospects of improving his situation.

This research Collection seeks to bring together research arising from different fields, within and outside of migration studies and allied areas of enquiry, which speak to the issue of migration and poverty.

Papers are invited that consider, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Poverty and the hope for a better life as factors in the motivation for migration;
  • The plight of migrants in states of limbo (e.g. in migrant camps, or detention and asylum centres);
  • Migrants’ experiences and circumstances in their new countries of residence;
  • The (local and global) political and legal regulations, frameworks and conditions that have a poverty-enhancing or poverty-reducing effect on migrants;
  • The different social and geographical spaces in which migration takes place;
  • The intersectionality of gender, age, race, health, disability, sexual orientation of migrants;
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives on the relationship between migration and poverty;
  • Critical appraisals of ‘migration research’, its theories and methods and how it approaches inequalities, vulnerability and marginalisation.

The Collection is open to essays examining intra- and transnational migration (in all its forms, e.g., voluntary, forced, crowded, seasonal, etc) in relation to (relative, absolute, monetary, multidimensional, etc.) poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Papers examining normative issues of (social and global) justice, human rights or ethics in relation to migration and poverty are encouraged. In addition to case studies and empirical social research, theoretical papers and those with a policy focus can are welcomed.

This Collection has no disciplinary focus and is open to contributions from a wide of discipline in the social sciences and humanities, including, among others, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, development studies, migration studies, economics, literary studies, history, philosophy, theology and law and legal studies, cultural studies.

This is an open Collection - as such there is no closing date for submissions.

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Submitting a paper for consideration


To submit your manuscript for consideration at Humanities & Social Sciences Communications as part of this Collection, please follow the steps detailed on this page. On the first page of our online submission system, under “I’m submitting:” select your article type. Authors should express their interest in the Collection in their cover letter.

Accepted papers are published on a rolling basis as soon as they are ready.

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