Winner or losers: adjustment strategies of rural-to-urban migrants case study: Kamza Municipality, Albania

Erka Caro, University of Groningen
Ajay Bailey, University of Groningen
Leo van Wissen, University of Groningen

There is an extended literature on immigrant integration. Yet the integration question has a largely unexplored relevance to research on internal migration. It is a mistake to assume that internal migrants are necessarily more homogeneous than are international migrants (King et al, 2008), particularly speaking of rural-urban migrants and their confrontation with different traditions, norms and culture of the urban society. As such, the focus of our study is rural-to-urban migrant’s perceptions on their adjustment process to the city. The study took place in suburban Tirana, Albania, during the 2008-2009. We aim to give an answer to the adjustment question based on a micro-level research, exploring experiences and perceived feelings of individual migrants. Our results show that economic, physical, social and psychological resources are perceived as coping mechanisms to surpass barriers and adjust in the city. Remittances act as main economic resources, while it is easier to adjust in the city for the better-off migrants. Place making and local context are perceived as physical resources facilitating adjustment. Internal migration in Albania happens in form of chain migration. People who come from the same village cluster in the same neighborhood. The socio-cultural clustering constitutes the main social and psychological resource prompting a supporting system for the migrants. The longer the rural migrants reside in the city the better the performance of their adjustment strategies. We found that sense of belonging and willingness to feel an urbanite facilitate the adjustment process. Moreover, this paper reveals that women migrants are more willing to adjust. They perceive themselves to be open-minded, independent and better informed than men. Younger generations perceive themselves as modern and better adjusted. Older generation is perceived as conservative and traditional, yet with less power to influence the other generations. Nostalgia and origin ties act as a barrier to adjustment process.

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Presented in Session 28: Consequences of migration and residential mobility at individual and societal level