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Migrant legal STATUS diversity and diversity dynamics in European CITIES

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - StatusCities (Migrant legal STATUS diversity and diversity dynamics in European CITIES)

Berichtszeitraum: 2017-09-01 bis 2019-08-31

What is the problem being addressed?
StatusCities aimed to provide a comprehensive investigation of the city level implications of migrants being differentiated by a myriad of legal status tracks. In practical terms this means that the problem the project addresses is a lack of understanding of how the regulation of migration creates different groups of migrants and how those differences in turn become relevant for local urban social dynamics.

Why is it important for society?
Conceptually and empirically the project focusses on superdiversity – which means that, from the outset, the aim is to think about migration-driven diversity in terms of multidimensional differentiations and how they are simultaneously relevant. Such a focus foregrounds diversity dynamics – rather than cross-sectional configurations. Such a focus is important for linking debates about the national level management of migration with debates on urban migration-related diversities. Doing so, is extremely timely given unprecedented migration to Europe and especially to Europe's cities. StatusCities contributes knowledge and methodological innovation by drawing on debates from various disciplinary fields and using a sophisticated and innovative mixed methods approach. Research has not yet investigated sufficiently how the multiplicity of status differences - with their associated eligibility criteria - affect people’s lives, for example their residential decisions. Understanding those link is crucial if we are to make sense of dynamic changes in migration-related diversity. With the current levels of migration StatusCities is devoted to filling this highly policy relevant knowledge void by putting in question migration control in light of its everyday implications for society at large.

What are the overall objectives?
The primary objective of the project was to contribute novel and cutting edge insights at the intersection between the interdisciplinary fields of urban and migration studies. A key objective in terms of content was to enable us to better understand the link between national level regulation [of migration] and local level diversities – moving beyond simple categories of difference and towards better understanding diversity dynamics.
In more detail the proposed empirical research aimed to elucidate where migrants subject to different legal status conditions live and what their residential biographies look like. StatusCities combines analysis of both unique longitudinal register data and qualitative data derived through mobile-phone supported elicitation techniques. The former are used to analyse migrant residential patterns in light of status differentiation, the latter to analyse city and neighbourhood level patterns by paying attention to individual mobility and sociality decisions at the time of legal status transitions.
In practice, the project had a focus on both a medium sized city in Germany and on four urban centres located in one of Europe’s major conurbations the Dutch Randstad. The research considers multiple scales of analysis through a focus on different types and differently sized cities and within them neighbourhoods that show a relatively high turnover of different status migrants. Some of the empirical analysis remains ongoing but the conceptualisation of the project has been published in a paper that is already being cited frequently and idea from which are being picked up by a growing number of researchers engaging with questions about the social implication of immigration control.
It is in going beyond the state of the art that the project work excelled most. Its empirical ambitions promise to provide further publications adding to the debate on the regulation of migration and urban diversities. In addition, the project offered the opportunity to more concertedly engage with the question of how migration statistics are produced in times of big data. This cutting edge debate has for the most part been lacking thorough investigation form the perspective of data ethics. While research on privacy and data concerns is growing, the question of data ethics sets these new developments apart. This focus forces us to be critical about why we are interested in, and how we do migration statistics. Adjacent to the original focus of this new area of research aided filling a gap in the literature. As frequent requests for acting as an expert on data ethics and migration statistics documents, this theme also has a high level of potential impact in the policy domain but also for those whose data is tracked and used to measure and predict migration.
A second area were the project went beyond the state of the art and the expected results, was through an invited participation in a cutting edge debate about immigrant integration in Europe today. In terms of how we think about the implications of migration this theme is evidently of high policy interest. Critically asking why it is that immigrant integration is continuously being foregrounded as a policy objective, my project work was able to push boundaries in this regard that will help us to rethink the prominent role of integration narratives.
Both these broader themes adopted during the project work have already had an impact on debates. I am certain that these themes will only gain in societal relevance. The specific publications and outreach activities based on this work promise that the project outcomes will reverberate beyond the runtime of the fellowship and have the impact of altering and critically evaluating what has been dubbed one of the central societal challenges of our time.
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