From lifestyle migration to lifestyle in migration:Categories, concepts and ways of thinking

Benson, Michaela and O’Reilly, Karen (2016) From lifestyle migration to lifestyle in migration:Categories, concepts and ways of thinking. Migration Studies, 4 (1). pp. 20-37. ISSN 2049-5838

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This article argues that analytical concepts used in migration (and other) research are most effectively employed empirically when their methodological underpinnings, and the nature of their development, are fully understood. Inductively designed conceptual frameworks developed through long-term qualitative research are a useful way of (re)thinking migration that can free researchers from the constraints of externally-imposed frameworks, categories and conceptualisations. In order to make this argument, we use the concept of lifestyle migration and consider closely the ways in which this term was developed, not to capture a discrete or homogenous category of migrants, but rather as an analytical tool and an alternative way of thinking about migration. Drawing impetus from a close examination of a specific attempt to operationalise lifestyle migration in quantitative research, we are led to consider the political and governance implications of using (migration) labels, and the overlaps and synergies between types of migration understood as practices informed by meanings and understandings. Here, we specifically explore, on the one hand, how economic factors intersect with lifestyle in migration and, on the other hand, the role of lifestyle as imagination, aspiration and way of living in other migration processes not necessarily labelled lifestyle migration.

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Journal Article
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Migration Studies
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09 Jun 2021 15:20
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:55