Being new and unconnected. Pioneer migrants in London

by Susanne Wessendorf

Working Papers WP 17-01
March 2017
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

Urban areas in Europe and beyond have seen significant changes in patterns of immigration, leading to profound diversification. This diversification is characterized by the multiplication of people of different national origins, but also differentiations regarding migration histories, religions, educational backgrounds, legal statuses and socio-economic backgrounds, a condition now commonly described as ‘super-diversity’. An important part of the ‘diversification of diversity’ is the emergence of new migrant source countries. Migration scholarship generally focuses on large migration movements, although many initial migration movements do not evolve into migrations of larger numbers of people. Little is known about processes of settlement of individual migrants who do not form part of larger migration movements and who might not be able to ‘dock onto’ an already existing ‘community’ when they arrive. This paper describes patterns of settlement among a diverse group of such individual migrants from recent countries of origin who have come to London to start a new life. Drawing on earlier migration literature and the notion of ‘pioneer migration’, the paper focuses on one crucial aspect of settlement, namely social networks, looking at the kinds of social relations pioneer migrants form upon arrival and in the course of their settlement, and showing that many migrants strive to form social relations beyond co-ethnics.

Keywords: migration, settlement, integration, social networks, pioneer migrants.  

Susanne Wessendorf is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at Birmingham University. Previously based at Oxford University and at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, her work has investigated the interrelationship of transnationalism and integration among the second generation, and more recently, social relations in a superdiverse urban context. Her current work focuses on settlement processes of recent migrants from new source countries. Susanne is co-editor (with Steven Vertovec) of ‘The Multiculturalim Backlash’ (Routledge 2010), and author of ‘Second-Generation Transnationalism and Roots Migration (Ashgate 2012) and ‘Commonplace Diversity. Social Relations in a Super-diverse context’ (Palgrave Macmillan 2014).