Socio-spatial scales as social boundaries? Or: How do migration studies profit from including ‘space’ in the sociology of social boundaries
Keywords:methodological nationalism, scale approach, categorical distinctions, social boundaries, social inequalities
Starting from the critique of methodological nationalism the article questions the conventional limitation of migration studies on social inequalities imposed by the nation state context. First, it highlights the conceptual shortcomings of assimilation approaches which mainly analyse hierarchies of social positions within the settings of the immigration countries. Second, it reviews migration research which addresses inequality patterns at the global and the transnational scale. It analyses both bodies of literature which have in common their inability to explicitly address the interaction between particular socio-spatial scales. This is the reason for the necessity to include the scale approach in migration studies. Moreover, to adopt the scale theory into inequality research, spatial scales, such as the global and local, the national and transnational must be re-conceptualized in terms of the social boundaries approach. In sum, the article exemplifies how migration studies on social hierarchies profit from understanding ‘space’ as a distinct set of categorical distinctions powerful in social practice.
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