People on the move: an introduction

Current global migration flows have become a matter of concern across all continents, from the crossings of the border between the US and Mexico, migrants seeking access to Australia on boats, stateless people leaving Myanmar, and the current flows of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa or over the straits between Turkey and the Greek islands. Movements of people affect the welfare of millions of human beings — the migrants and refugees, those who stay behind, and the residents in transit and host countries.

Migrations have multiple causes that affect their intensity at certain points in history. Each important migration wave has impacted upon the composition, size and development of different ethnic and religious groups, as well as the relations between them. The intermingling of populations enriches societies, creates diversity, and results in positive and rich combinations of cultures and ideas. Yet the inflow and outflow of people can also generate new tensions and clashes among social groups in host countries. Such tensions and conflicts may redefine political identities and cultural cleavages in both the short and long term, making for new voter alignments and alliances. The changes are not just immediate — the repercussions and consequences may unfold over long periods of time.

This publication aims to continue the conversation on migrations that was started at the On the Move conference held in Oslo, Norway, in October 2016. Stories will address current challenges around migration and integration worldwide, and discuss policy responses and the role of science in addressing these issues. The authors are social scientists from all regions of the world, and from across the disciplines, who draw on their research to contribute to a wider discussion about migrations, and the challenges and responses to them. We hope that the stories collected here will inspire you to contribute your own.

Watch a livestream of the conference plenary sessions.

The On the Move conference was co-organized by the International Social Science Council (ISSC), Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HIOA) and CROP (Comparative Research Programme on Poverty), and supported by the Research Council of Norway, with support from the Norwegian UNESCO Committee.

Opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the contributors and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the ISSC and its partners in the On the Move conference.