The project will contribute world class social science research to empirical studies of migration and to theoretical debates about the cultural schemas, structural frames, and active agency involved in migration flows. Scholarly outputs will include seminar and key-note presentations at international conferences, articles in international journals, an edited volume (or special journal issue) with a renowned academic publisher, web-based resources with global reach, and finally a monograph on ‘Asian perspectives of the good life’. It is expected that the team as a whole will attend one international conference plus national conferences during the course of the project (and will continue dissemination activities well beyond the life of the project), thus contributing methodological developments, substantive findings, and theoretical reflections in debate with other academics internationally.
The project will make an important contribution to migration research, beginning to fill a widely identified gap. There is increasing academic interest in tourism-related mobilities, health tourism and migration, welfare migration and other forms of fluid and affluent mobility, yet despite growing incidence in the real world, lifestyle migration remains a small field that has received insufficient attention. This has now changed, thanks to the publication of Lifestyle Migration (Benson and O’Reilly 2009), but this remains western focused.
Migration research is essentially interdisciplinary and our research can contribute to debates about how disciplines can and must work together. As a team our work has already contributed to the academic disciplines of sociology, human geography, social policy, criminology, social theory, and social anthropology.
The project will contribute empirical data and theoretical reflections to a range of current academic debates in the fields of ethnicity and identity, especially of interest to those currently engaging concepts of whiteness and hybridity, and in migration research on the concepts of transnationalism and community. It will inform debates about: the nature of the good life and utopia in post-modernity (see the work of Ruth Levitas and Zygmunt Bauman); everyday life as structured practice (see Ewa Morawska and Ettienne Wenger); the role of technology in migration; and flexible mobility and flexible citizenship (Aihwa Ong).
The project will also make a contribution to methodological debates on, and empirical studies using, virtual, digital, multi-sited and mobile methods. The two research associates will have the opportunity to acquire skills and expertise in innovative research methods, thus the project has a capacity-building element. Through our association with the LiQuiD Lab (Loughborough’s Qualitative Digital Research Lab) the team will benefit from and contribute to the expertise of a wide (interdisciplinary) range of scholars developing advanced and innovative approaches to qualitative methodology.
The project will be one of very few empirical studies framed from the outset by structuration theory, and will provide an example of this theoretical framework in practice, by employing and developing some of the conceptual tools proposed by Rob Stones in his strong version of the theory, Structuration Theory, and by Karen O’Reilly in her new book, International Migration and Social Theory.