Refreshing the typology of migration systems. A reformulation based on the case of early nineteenth-century Geneva

Adrien Remund, University of Geneva

After several decades of debate, historians have now largely established that large scale mobility already existed before the urbanization and the so-called modernization of Western societies. At the same time, most classical studies have successfully based their analyses of global population mobility on the theory of systems. This approach was introduced by the works of Charles Tilly in the 1970s and later on popularized by Leslie Page Moch. Unfortunately, the typology they proposed do not accounts for the diversity of systems highlighted in recent studies. Does this weakness jeopardize the whole theory? In 2002, Lesger, Lucassen & Schrover proposed a “tri-nominal typology”, to more efficiently capture this diversity through the dimensions of space, time, and mode. The present paper assesses the relevance of this new framework by applying it to the case of early nineteenth-century Geneva. The results partly validate the model, but also call for an important adaptation. Circular and step migration should be distinguished by means of a fourth dimension, the destination of return migrants. Moreover, several techniques are considered to complete the “user manual” of the new typology. Firstly, log-linear models appear as the best method to analyse the destination of return migrants. Secondly, I argue that time should be defined as the intended duration of sojourn, which might be identified by the shape of the hazard of leaving the city. Thirdly, the data available in the case of Geneva suggest that residential distributions can be used to estimate the level of organization of each system.

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Presented in Session 21: The renewal of urban historical demography