Workshop on Social Theory and Migration: Dialogues on Critical Realism and Migration Research

Past Event

28 April 2011, 10:30am - 6:00am

Wolfson College
Linton Road<br /> Oxford<br /> OX2 6UD

Workshop on Social Theory and Migration: Dialogues on Critical Realism and Migration Research

The International Migration Institute is organising a one-day workshop to start new conversations about social theory and migration studies.


The analytical categories of structure and agency have a prominent place in the research on migration processes, the settlement of people and their social incorporation into host societies. There are two dominant theoretical perspectives where the structure-agency impasse has so far been addressed. The first, and most frequently adopted, is Giddens’ notion of structuration; while it is beguiling, it has arguably failed to offer any significant advances for migration theory. The second, critical realism, appears to offer a useful analytical tool for a more sophisticated analysis of structure and agency in migration processes. Nevertheless, attempts at incorporating critical realism into migration studies remain fragmented and its utility is contested.

This workshop aims to provide a platform for dialogue on how to theoretically and methodologically apply a critical realism perspective in empirical studies of migration processes. The sessions will explore the foundations of critical realism; reflect on how it can be applied to migration research; and ask what is distinctive about critical realist approaches to migration research compared to the much more common positivist and relativist studies that dominate the field.

Workshop organisation

In order to ensure intensive and creative discussion, the workshop will consist of three sessions, each ofwhich will have one paper addressing the theme of the session. These papers will be briefly presented by the authors. These will be followed by responses from two discussants, who will highlight key points, present critiques and raise further issues, and then open discussion. Papers will be circulated to participants in advance. NB All participants are asked to read these papers before the workshop and be prepared to contribute to the dialogue.


The places for this workshop are extremely limited. If you would like to find out whether there are any places left, please contact: & Lunch and tea/coffee will be provided.