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)

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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.

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