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Knowledge networks in the study of migration


The objective of this vignette is to understand the role of networks in the migration process. When talking about networks and migration, it is often either the smuggling networks or the transportation networks that are discussed. However, one never migrates alone; migrants, whatever their motivation, destination and origin, always benefit from solidarity networks (family, acquaintances, contacts…) which condition their migratory journey (to define the places crossed and inhabited, the difficulties encountered, the people encountered, the temporalities). This is what D’s story told below shows:

D. wishes to go to Europe but does not have a residence permit, so he cannot go there directly. His migratory journey consists of several stages: he leaves Conakry, goes to Gambia in Banjul, then returns to Guinea before leaving again for Senegal and Mali. His movements and his settlement in these different places are conditioned by the presence of a relative and by the opportunities, particularly employment opportunities, that present themselves to him. The knowledge network is essential because it allows D. to benefit from the experience that his relatives have of the territories where he settles. They secure his arrival in unfamiliar places.


Migration pathways are organized by different types of networks: on the one hand, institutional networks (formal) and personal networks (informal). Institutional networks are mainly state networks. They organize migration according to migration policies. Canada, for example, has a chosen immigration policy, targeted at French-speaking populations in Europe and Africa, and at certain categories of employment (midwives, nurses, teachers, etc.). Conversely, France tries to limit economic immigration and sends a ministerial delegation to select candidates for emigration who are likely to benefit from refugee status.

It is therefore a question of placing migration in a reticular perspective, highlighting the multiplicity of places, logics and actors that influence a migratory journey.

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