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ALMA Reviews Blog: Conflict Model of Migration and Perception of Human Insecurity

Deniz Eroğlu-Utku and Pınar Yazgan; Trakya University in Edirne & Sakarya University, Turkey

Published in 2021 in Handbook of Culture and Migration by Edward Elgar Publishing

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In this book chapter, Deniz Eroğlu-Utku and Pınar Yazgan examine the Conflict Model of Migration as a social theory for migration scholars. Eroğlu-Utku, who is a lecturer on Political Science and Public Administration at the Trakya University in Edirne, Turkey, and Yazgan, who is an associate professor of Sociology at Sakarya University, Turkey, dissect the ways in which conflict and migration are linked, lead to or even cause each other. They draw on earlier writings by Sirkeci (2006) and Cohen & Sirkeci (2011), who established the so-called “Conflict Model of Migration”, which seeks to explain human mobility and the motivations behind it. The model argues that “people tend to migrate when conflicts reach intolerable levels for them and their perception of insecurity becomes high” (p. 22).

The two authors follow the argumentation of Sirkeci at al. (2019) further. This allows them to shed light on the different pillars of the Conflict Model of Migration, namely the 3Ds (Democratic Deficit, Development Deficit, Demographic Deficit) and 4Cs (human capital, social capital, financial capital, physical capability) (p.18). Only when someone has the subjectively adequate combination of Cs, will he or she be able to migrate. Eroğlu-Utku and Yazgan do not stop here but focus in the first part of their theoretical discussion on the people with the capability to migrate (holding the 4 Cs) who also actively decide to do so. Hence, they focus on the perception of insecurity and how the abovementioned Ds vary in importance in the individual decision-making process (p. 18).

Whilst their highlighting of the centrality of the perception of insecurity is already a valuable contribution, the real addition by Eroğlu-Utku and Yazgan to the scholarly debate is located in the second part of their chapter, where they expand on how the perception of the researcher also plays a crucial role in assessing the perception of insecurity. Hence, thinking about our own perception of insecurity as researchers allows us to reflect on how we do research on causes of migration and how we can discuss research findings within the field of migration and displacement. The two authors therefore add a researcher dimension to the theoretical and analytical model, allowing the positionality of the researcher and the socially constructed aspects of (in)security to be taken into account (p. 19). To achieve this goal, they suggest including multiple forms of human insecurity perception. By doing so, they hope to make the influence of researchers’ beliefs and assumptions transparent and offer a platform for (self-) reflection (p. 21).

Given that the authors of this chapter intended to engage with the Conflict Model of Migration and perceptions of insecurity on a theoretical level, in my opinion, some examples drawn from empirical research and/or case studies would have helped to illustrate some of the key concepts used within the chapter. Especially during the subchapter on the researcher dimension and the importance of the researchers’ perception of insecurity for data on and research written about migrants’ perception of insecurity, even some anecdotal evidence would have helped to underline some of the arguments (pp. 19-22). 

Still, this thoughtful, theoretically rich and very readable chapter is a great edition to the overall Handbook of Culture and Migration in which it is published. The theoretical discussion presented within the chapter establishes a theoretical and analytical tool that is also valuable for subsequent chapters of the handbook, which are focused rather on empirical research (and therefore, if the reader takes her or his time and reads further in the volume, the criticism from my previous paragraph can be invalidated). Hence, either as a work standing by itself or as part of a collection of theoretical and scientific elaborations, the chapter by Eroğlu-Utku and Yazgan provides a thought-provoking perspective on the Conflict Model of Migration in general and, within the model, on the perception of insecurity and the importance of the researcher dimension specifically.

Reviewed by: Cita Wetterich

Works cited:

Cohen, J.H. and I. Sirkeci, 2011. Cultures of Migration: The Global Nature of Contemporary Mobility. University of Texas Press.

Sirkeci, I., 2006. The Environment of Insecurity in Turkey and the Emigration of Turkish Kurds to Germany. New York: Edwin Mellen Press.

Sirkeci, I., D. Utku, and M.M. Yüceşahin, 2019. Göç çatışma modelinin katılım, kalkınma ve kitle açıkları üzerinden bir değerlendirmesi. Journal of Economy Culture and Society 59(1): 157–184.

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Foto: ©Cynthia Matonhodze, Harare, Zimbabwe

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