Migration Essay

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Sociology of Migration In his treatise on Eternal Peace, the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1795) argued that all 'world citizens' should have a right to free movement, a right which he grounded in humankind's common ownership of the earth. One can hardly imagine a 'right' that has been so extensively violated as the right to mobility. The nation-state system has arrogated to itself the right to determine who shall enter and who shall leave. In this sense, the 'illegalised' migrant is the unconscious bearer of Kant's message for the right to move fearlessly and freely across borders. Migration is at the heart of sociological concerns. From August Comte to Emile Durkheim to Karl Marx, all these thinkers have been interested in the movement of people and the consequences thereof. Durkheim, for example, was concerned with the break-up of rural solidarity and the consequent migration to the cities. But in contrast to early sociologists like Comte and Durkheim, who described migration in peaceful, evolutionary terms, subsequent sociologists, since Karl Marx's theories, have come to see migration as a more violent process. Displacing the peasant from the soil for industrial purposes came to be seen as a brutal practice. Marx argues: "great masses of men were suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled on to the labour market as free, unprotected and rightless proletarians". The expression 'free' proletarians, according to Marx, implies that labourers were now free from their own means of production and subsistence and 'free', but of necessity required to sell their remaining possession, their labour power, in the market. Later sociological studies have explored the extent to which modern capitalism required 'free' and 'unfree' labour to function successfully and profitably. The most evident example of 'unfree labour' is the deployment of

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