The Refugee System: A Sociological Approach

David S. FitzGerald, University of California San Diego

Some people facing violence and persecution flee. Others stay. How do households in danger decide whom should go, where to relocate, and whether to keep moving? What interests and conditions in countries of origin, transit, and reception shape people’s options? The Refugee System tells how one Syrian family spread across several countries tried to survive the civil war and live in dignity. Departing from studies that create siloes of knowledge about just one setting or “solution,” this book’s sociological approach explains the entire system. Changes in one part of the system reverberate elsewhere. Feedback mechanisms change processes across time and place. Earlier migrations shape later movements. Immobility on one path redirects migration along others. For states, their past policies, laws, and migrations, and the actions of other states, shape their responses in the present. All these processes are forged by deep inequalities of economic, political, military, and ideological power.

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 Presented in Session 134. Authors Meet Critics: The Refugee System by Rawan Arar and David FitzGerald