Typology of migrations and living systems theory

Ilan Riss, Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics

W. Petersen, author of the well-known typology of migrations, said: “the most general statement that one can make concerning migration must be in the form of a typology, rather than a law”. Several approaches exist in the classification of migrations based on various criteria (e.g., voluntary-involuntary, innovative-conservative, international-internal). Our approach to migration typology is based on the analysis of growth, transformation and interactions of social systems. For this purpose an analysis of migrations in terms of the Living Systems Theory (LST) by J. G. Miller was applied. This theory regards each living system (LS) as being comprised of twenty subsystems that process information and matter/energy inside the LS and between the LS and its environment. Building migration typology at least at its initial stage does not require quantitative data, which are usually scarce in research of migrations. Instead, we rely on historical and sociological texts, which give us full-scale descriptions of migration processes. An analysis of these texts was performed using methods of qualitative research. Qualitative research is a type of study that produces findings not identified by statistical procedures or other forms of quantification. Grounded theory, a kind of qualitative research for behavioral science developed by sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, was applied in this research. The combination of qualitative research with LST offers new possibilities for understanding migration processes. Considering migration as a part of a broader socio-economic system is essential for understanding human migrations. The proposed typology may be useful in realizing a system approach in the study of migrations. Existing theories and typologies of migrations are based on different and usually mutually complementary principles. A system approach may consolidate them into a more comprehensive, more productive framework for future research.

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Presented in Poster Session 2