Towards a Sistemic Theory of Irregular Migration

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Gabriel ECHEVERRIA CUBELLO, Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy
A great number of different theories have been proposed to explain the causes of irregular migration. Broadly speaking, two opposite arguments have been proposed. On the one hand, the idea of a “decadent state”, which, overwhelmed by the forces of globalization, would not be able to control migration fluxes anymore. On the other hand, the idea of an “almighty state”, which, in order to fulfil its own or other social interests, would “produce” or “favour” the existence of irregularity. While certainly illuminating of important aspects, all these theories appear to be affected by three important limitations: they offer mono-causal explanations; tend to overstate the role of the state (even when they diagnose its current or upcoming decline); are unable to explain the emergence of irregular migration within different contexts. All these theoretical limitations can be linked to an inadequate, largely influenced by the modern state semantics, conceptualization of modern society. The proposed paper will present the results a theoretical study, which, building on the critiques to the principal theoretical explanations of irregular migration, focused on the theoretical work of Niklas Luhmann in search for a more convincing theoretical framework. This approach helped to overcome most of the theoretical difficulties and paradoxes that have characterized the field of research. It allowed to go beyond a dichotomist understanding of the relation between agency/structure and to retrieve a social perspective where a statist one had been clearly dominant. Irregular migration emerged as a complex, differentiated, structural phenomenon of modern world society. Its development was related to the existing structural mismatch between the dominant form of social differentiation (functional) and the specific form of internal differentiation (segmentary) into territorial states of the political system.