Despite all media attention and popularity, migration is not a norm but exception. Only about 3% of the world population are international migrants; estimated numbers are around 250 million. However, human mobility has increased drastically recently as, for example, number of international trips exceeded a billion a year. Current theories of migration have rather focused on the outcomes of mobility, arrival of immigrants and they depict an overall positive outlook in destinations. This not only feeds into anti-immigration sentiments, but also does not help understanding human mobility. I argue migration is a function of conflict which is defined in a broader sense. Current flight of Syrians has just made the conflict aspect more apparent. According to our analysis of the Gallup Polls 2009-2011, we were expecting a similar outpouring from Syria and countries with similar characteristics. Hence it is now time to recast migration theory with a conflict perspective integrating cultures of migration. Contemporary human mobility is driven by conflicts leading to material and non-material insecurities. Once perceived environment of insecurity emerges, those who are able and capable of moving will move to other places domestically or internationally depending on their perception of insecurity and the extent to which these can be addressed locally or domestically. Along the movement, perception of (in)security evolves as conflicts change, emerge and fade, migration decisions change in a dynamic fashion.
Ibrahim Sirkeci is Ria Professor and the Director of the Regent’s Centre for Transnational Studies (RCTS) at Regent’s University London. Previously he had worked at the University of Bristol. His research revolves around migration, transnational consumers, labour markets, and remittances and have been funded by the World Bank, British Academy, European Commission and the industry. His key contributions are the conceptual work on cultures of migration, a conflict model and “transnational mobile consumers”, a term he coined. Prof Sirkeci has published several books and hundreds of articles as has been an editor of several journals including Migration Letters, Remittances Review, Kurdish Studies, and Journal of Gypsy Studies. His recent books include Turkish Migration, Identity and Integration (2015), Politics and Law in Turkish Migration (2015), Family and Human Capital in Turkish Migration (2015) Transnational Marketing and Transnational Consumers (2013), Migration and Remittances during the Global Financial Crisis and Beyond (2012), and Cultures of Migration, the global nature of contemporary mobility (2011) which was named ‘Outstanding Academic Title’ by Choice magazine in the USA.