What Is in a Migration Regime? Genealogical Approach and Methodological Proposal

  • Christoph Rass
  • Frank Wolff
Part of the Migrationsgesellschaften book series (MIGRAGS)


Scholars on migration increasingly rely on the concept of migration regime to capture the relation between mobility, regulation and discourse. Depending on authors’ research interests, political goals and disciplinarity, the meaning of the term differs widely. This undifferentiated usage undermines the approach’s potential to analyze the complexities that shape migration. Yet, such practical shortcomings do not outweigh the promises and potential the term offers to migration research. In two steps, this article aims to facilitate the ongoing debate. First we present a much required genealogy of the term from its initial meaning in the early 20th century up to today’s array of dissimilar applications. We identify differences and, maybe more importantly, a set of similarities which shape the core of those diverse usages. Based on this overview, the second step charts out a layered and structurated approach to migration regime as an analytical concept and attempts to draw some outlines for interdisciplinary applicability. In order to develop a systematic approach to the interrelated practices which constitute the migration regime, our concluding methodological suggestions builds on questions of power relations and agency within a scalable migration regime.


Migration regime Review essay Methodology Structuration Regulation of migration Agency Power formation Social practices 


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Modern History/Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS)Osnabrück UniversityOsnabrückGermany

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