Democracy on the Move?

The Potential Link Between Circular Migration and Democratization
Part of the United Nations University Series on Regionalism book series (UNSR, volume 12)


This chapter argues that circular migration may contribute to transformation in areas that have so far been rarely touched upon in the debate. Besides the transfer of financial remittances and professional skills, political and (un)democratic attitudes and practices may also be diffused through temporary or circular migration. Based on a survey among 1000 Philippine return migrants from six destinations and qualitative research, this chapter shows that at an individual level, the migration experience may have a positive or negative influence on the democratic attitudes of migrants. This effect might be enforced through circular migration, because it provides the migrant with a regular “reality check” in comparing home and destination country. The findings are discussed with reference to a clearly democratic country (Japan), a clearly authoritarian state (Saudi Arabia) and the “special case” of Hong Kong. For policy makers, the case studies allow to draw a conclusion that opens up new vistas: If circular migrants should contribute to the development in their home countries, it is of utmost importance to provide them with opportunities for organizing and political participation while being abroad.


Migration Democratisation Circular migration Philippines Return migrants Development Hong Kong Saudi Arabia Japan Social movement 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Albert-Ludwigs-UniversityFreiburgGermany

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