Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2014

Migration and Integration in Urban Contexts

Lecturer: Professor David Ley,
Department of Geography,
University of British Colubmia, Canada

Main disciplines: Human Geography, Sociology

Dates: 21 - 25 July 2014
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 25 participants

This course will examine international migration and subsequent integration in cities in the developed world. The topic is broad with a long history in both the social sciences and public policy. In this Age of Migration (Castles and Miller 2009) the policy questions have become more urgent with growing pressures from legal and undocumented migration in the developed world. At the same time the erosion of the welfare state and neoliberal policies are creating growing inequalities in society and migrants commonly endure social and economic exclusion, with clustering in areas of concentrated poverty. But simultaneously skilled and wealthy migrants face fewer barriers and are courted by many nation states, leading to a marked bifurcation in migrant opportunities and relations with government. The policy umbrella of multiculturalism as a path to integration has been challenged in many states with no clear substitute to take its place. The present has become a time for multiple anxieties in the experience of migrants and in the management of population diversity.

The literature on immigration and integration ranges, as it should, across the social sciences and beyond. Although human geography is a focus of the course, the readings and discussion will move freely across social science disciplines. While many studies are ethnographies, others employ mixed methods including the use of official data bases.

The content will move sequentially through five topics, one for each day. We begin with the spectre of immigrant segregation, source of considerable anxiety today, and regarded as the antithesis of immigrant integration. This negative view is challenged. We then consider the racialisation of migrants, a historic force for segregation, and resurgent at the present time. Next we examine the diversity of immigration streams, and the neoliberal tendency to recognise ‘worthy’ migrants whose human capital is expected to add to the nation state’s wellbeing, and ‘unworthy migrants’ with limited human capital who may face blocked or temporary settlement with limited citizenship rights. The retreat from multiculturalism is analysed, its re-statement as everyday multiculturalism is noted, and the alternative model of republicanism is considered. Finally, we conclude with a model of ‘successful’ integration, drawing lessons from several studies.

Because arguments are developed most fully in books, and because doctoral students are about to write a book-length manuscript, each discussion will revolve around one or two monographs. In addition to the empirical content and its conceptual and policy implications, the course will interrogate such issues as the author’s positionality, the relative treatment of theory and data, methodological strategies, styles of writing, the shaping of plausible arguments, and relations between researchers and policy makers.

The format of the course will be as follows. The instructor will present a short lecture, and a set of questions will be identified from the readings for class discussion. It is essential for students to have mastered the required readings to derive full benefits from the course. Five books are identified for reading in advance. Optional readings need not be consulted, though the instructor may well make reference to them.


Books for course preparation
It is a requirement that the participants obtain and read these three books in advance of the course.

  • Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson (2009) ‘Sleepwalking to Segregation’? Challenging Myths about Race and Migration. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
  • Irene Bloemraad (2006) Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
  • David Ley (2010) Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Lifelines. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

In addition, it is recommended that participants obtain and read these two books, preferably in advance of the course:

  • Kay Anderson (1991) Vancouver’s Chinatown: Racial Discourse in Canada, 1875-1980. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
  • John Western (1992). A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.



Lectures 1 and 2: The spectre of segregation and related immigration anxieties
We examine critically the mythology that has arisen around immigrant segregation, and its role as a source of public anxiety. Finney and Simpson’s book introduces key terms and dispels common myths in an accessible argument. Most recently in Western Europe and North American concern about segregation has led to dispersal initiatives like the Hope 6 policy in the United States and ‘Breaking segregation’ in Sweden to diffuse ethnic and racial minorities. Are such responses warranted? Are they successful?


  • Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson (2009) ‘Sleepwalking to Segregation’? Challenging Myths about Race and Migration. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, 1-41, 73-159.
  • Asa Brama (2006) ‘White flight?’ The production and reproduction of immigrant concentration areas in Swedish cities, 1990-2000. Urban Studies 43 (7): 1127-1146.
  • David Ley (2007) Countervailing immigration and domestic migration in gateway cities: Australian and Canadian variations on an American theme. Economic Geography Vol. 83 (3), 231-54.
  • Ceri Peach (1996a) Good segregation, bad segregation. Planning Perspectives 11 (4): 379-98.

Additional Optional Reading:

  • Ceri Peach (1996b) Does Britain have ghettoes? Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 21 (1): 216-35.
  • Deborah Phillips (2006) Parallel lives? Challenging discourses of British Muslim self-segregation. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24 (1): 25-40.
  • Vaughan Robinson, Roger Andersson and Sako Musterd (2003) Spreading the ‘Burden’? A Review of Policies to Disperse Asylum Seekers and Refugees. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
  • Martine August and Alan Walks (2012) From social mix to political marginalisation: the redevelopment of Toronto’s public housing and the dilution of tenant organisational power, pp. 273-98 in G. Bridge, T. Butler and L. Lees (eds.) Mixed Communities: Gentrification by Stealth? Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Lecture 3 and 4: Race and the making of segregation
Recent research has treated the map of segregation not as a social fact to be measured but as a social problem to be deconstructed. These two very different studies locate the segregation of racial minorities in the formal and informal actions of the host society. Anderson deconstructs historic European racialisation of China, while Wacquant employs a bold comparative method in his contemporary study of racial marginalization in the US and France.


  • Kay Anderson (1991) Vancouver’s Chinatown: Racial Discourse in Canada, 1875-1980. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press 8-33, 73-105, 211-244.
  • Loïc Wacquant (2008) Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1-12, 163-98, 229-79.

Additional Optional Reading:

  • Berry, Brian J. L. (1979) The Open Housing Question: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1966–1976.
  • Massey, Douglas S., and Nancy A. Denton (1993) American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press
  • John Western (1997) Outcast Cape Town. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lecture 5 and 6: Warmth of the welcome
In neoliberal times the state has categorised de facto and also de jure the variable status of worthy and unworthy immigrants. Beginning in the Persian Gulf and southeast Asia this dramatic status hierarchy is now articulated also in immigration regimes in North America and Western Europe. We contrast Allan Pred’s provocative interpretation of the experience of refugees in Sweden, and my study of the privileged cadre of millionaire migrants in Canada.


  • Brenda Yeoh (2006) Bifurcated labour: the unequal incorporation of transmigrants in Singapore. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie  97 (1): 26-37.
  • Allan Pred (2000) Even in Sweden? Racisms, Racialized Spaces and the Popular Geographical Imagination. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, xi-xvii, 1-56, 123-42.
  • David Ley (2010) Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Lifelines. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1-31, 98-161.

Additional Optional Reading:

  • Sedef Arat-Koc (1999) Neo-liberalism, state restructuring and immigration: changes in Canadian policies in the 1990s. Journal of Canadian Studies 34 (2): 31-56
  • Jeffrey Reitz (1998) Warmth of the Welcome: The Social Causes of Economic Success for Immigrants in Different Nations and Cities. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Lecture 7 and 8: Managing Integration
The management of diversity in recent years has been straining the capacity of the nation state. Multiculturalism, a preferred strategy in many democratic societies, is in retreat, particularly in Europe. So how are immigrants to be integrated as citizens? We contrast in particular integration strategies in the United States and Canada and their apparent outcomes, while noting alternate models such as interculturalism and republicanism.


  • Aihwa Ong (2003) Buddha is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America. Berkeley: University of California Press pp. 1-21, 122-41, 229-49.
  • Irene Bloemraad (2006) Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 1-64, 233-52.
  • Sophie Watson and Anamik Saha (2012) Suburban drifts: mundane multiculturalism in outer London. Ethnic and Racial Studies DOI 10.1080/01419870.2012.678875
  • Banu Gökariksel and Katharyne Mitchell (2005) Veiling, secularism and the neoliberal subject: national narratives and supranational desires in Turkey and France. Global Networks 5 (2): 147-65.

Additional Optional Reading:

  • Ghassan Hage (2000) White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society. New York: Routledge.
  • Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka (2010) Canadian multiculturalism: Global anxieties and local debates. British Journal of Canadian Studies vol. 23 (1): 43-72.
  • Baujke Prins and Sawitri Saharso (2010) From toleration to repression: the Dutch backlash against multiculturalism, pp. 72-91 in Steven Vertovec and Susanne Wessendorf (eds.) The Multiculturalism Backlash: European Discourses, Policies and Practices. London: Routledge.
  • Ulf Hedetoft (2010) Denmark versus multiculturalism, pp. 111-129 in Steven Vertovec and Susanne Wessendorf (eds.) The Multiculturalism Backlash: European Discourses, Policies and Practices. London: Routledge.
  • David Ley (2013) Does transnationalism trump immigrant integration? Evidence from Canada’s links with East Asia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 39 (6) pp. 921-38.

Lecture 9 and 10: Toward Integration
The course ends normatively, and perhaps optimistically. The classic assimilation model is re-examined, the importance of social capital derived from families and institutions is commented upon, and John Western’s compelling if idiosyncratic study of the path to belonging and integration is analysed. Going against the grain of popular discourse, Western traces the movement to middle-class status through two generations of a sample of Barbadian families in London.


  • John Jakle and James Wheeler (1969) The changing residential structure of the Dutch population in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 59: 441-60.
  • Justin Tse and Johanna Waters (2013) Transnational youth transitions: becoming adults between Vancouver and Hong Kong. Global Networks 13 (4): 535-50.
  • David Ley (2008) The immigrant church as an urban service hub. Urban Studies Vol. 45 (10): 2057-74.      
  • John Western (1992). A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (especially 1-26, 87-193, 235-81).


Additional Optional Reading:

  • Ash Amin (2012) Land of Strangers. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 111-136.
  • John Western (2012) Cosmopolitan Europe: A Strasbourg Self-Portrait. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

The lecturer
David Ley is Canada Research Chair of Geography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He was the joint founder and Co-Director of the interdisciplinary Vancouver Centre for Research on Immigration and Integration from 1996-2003. His research is concerned with the social geography of large cities. Past books include A Social Geography of the City (1983), The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City (1996) and Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Lifelines (2010). He is currently writing Housing Bubbles, a study of the causes and consequences of volatile and high-priced housing markets in global cities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and Fellow Emeritus of the Trudeau Foundation.


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Tags: Migration, Geography, Segregation, Multiculturalism, Human Geography, Integration, Summer School, PhD
Published Nov. 28, 2013 10:30 AM - Last modified Sep. 12, 2017 2:16 PM