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Int Migr Rev. 1989 Fall;23(3):403-30.

The next waves: migration theory for a changing world.



In the last quarter of a century, migration theory has undergone fundamental change, moving from the classic "individual relocation" genre initiated by Ravenstein a century ago, to a variety of new approaches which nevertheless share important elements: they tend to be historical, structural, globalist, and critical. Historicization implies a constant modification of theoretical concerns and emphases in the light of changing social realities, and a commitment to a critical approach entails a view of research as 1 element in a broader project concerned with the elucidation of social and political conditions. The article uses elements from 2 major theoretical traditions - a modified world-systems approach and state theory - to project current trends. Global inequality is considered as a structural given. The article then reviews major topics, including the persistence of restrictive immigration policies as barriers to movement, changing patterns of exploitation of foreign labor, liberalization of exit from the socialist world, and the refugee crisis in the developing world. It concludes with a brief consideration of the normative implications of these trends.

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