European Sociological Association Conference, Murcia, Spain Sept 23-26 2003

Lessons from the past, options for the future


Concern about population ageing in Europe is often related to its impact on the welfare system, since ageing tends to decrease its financial resources and increase the demands for social expenditure. Migration is regarded as a remedy since the younger immigrant population could help counterbalance this demographic trend. However, if immigrants settle in the country the costs may outweigh the benefits. The effects of migration on the receiving society are manifold and worth sociological scrutiny. The experience of European countries has counted among the negative aspects of immigration various forms of social exclusion and social tension or conflict, which have incentivated efforts to integrate migrants on the side of public administrations.

This research stream aims to identify the main challenges that European civil societies and states face in the next fifty years by learning from the five past decades of immigration. Papers on the following questions and related topics are welcome, both comparative or country specific:

a) Migration and social structure

What has been the long term evolution of immigrants in the European labour markets?
What is the social mobility pattern of immigrants?
What problems of social disadvantage, social discrimination or social exclusion do they face?

b) Migration and cultural integration

The end of assimilation, the era of dissimilation?
To what extent have different ethnic groups followed the path towards acculturation?
How have European governments treated the incoming religious practices and beliefs?

What is the record of the so called "multicultural" and "integrationist" approaches to immigrant

accommodation in Europe?

c) Migration and the welfare system

Is immigration the solution to the problems caused by population ageing?
How long would migration postpone the foreseeable financial crisis of pension systems?
How does migration affect the education and health systems?
What can we learn from the European countries experience of social assistance to immigrants?

d) Migration and inter-ethnic relationships

What does public opinion research in Europe teach us about inter-ethnic relationships?
Have ethnic claims found satisfactory channels of expression and representation?
How has the pro and anti-immigrant cleavage developed in European politics?
What can or should be done to prevent inter-ethnic conflict?

e) Migration and public policy

Do recent reforms of immigration policies in European countries provide evidence of convergence?
Are there any "best practices" to learn from?
What are and should be the policies towards undocumented foreigners?

Organizers of this research stream will be:

Berta Alvarez-Miranda Navarro, Spain
Grete Brochmann, Norway

Joachim Bruess, Germany