chapter  2
26 Pages

Migration Networks and Immigrant Entrepreneurship

ByIvan Light, Parminder Bhachu, Stavros Karageorgis

In the last decade, immigration research has refocused on the issue of migrant networks in both contemporary and historical migrations (Bozorgmehr, 1990; Portes and Borocz, 1989; Fawcett, 1989; Boyd, 1989; Morawska, 1989: 260; Wilpert and Gitmez, 1987). Massey (1988: 396) defines migration networks as “sets of interpersonal ties that link migrants, former migrants, and nonmigrants in origin and destination areas through the bonds of kinship, friendship, and shared community origin.” A long-standing concern (Tilly, 1978; Light, 1972), migration networks became of renewed interest when researchers sought to connect macro and micro determinants of immigration. Micro determinants govern the migration choices of individuals. Micro theorists conceptualize the decision makers as solitary and independent (Sell, 1983; De Jong and Fawcett, 1981; Lee, 1966). Often placed in a world systems context, macro influences are regional and international in scope. Thus conceived, macro influences affect whole groups directly, exerting their effect without the mediation of social networks (Burawoy, 1976; Portes and Walton, 1981; Gardner, 1981; Williamson, 1988; Sassen-Koob, 1989). In contrast to these approaches, migration network theorists conceive of migration as embedded in social networks that span continents and decades, and which arise, grow, and ultimately decline. A 26network approach fits individual decision makers within groups, and it interposes groups between macroscopic social and economic conditions and actual migrations.