2/11: GTD Colloquium by Dr. Sorana Toma: Social Position and Migrant Social Capital in International Migration from Africa to Europe

By Dr. Sorana Toma

Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR), Ghent University

When: Wednesday December 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:30

Where: Zoom (https://maastrichtuniversity.zoom.us/j/98219325733)


A large body of work shows that socioeconomic disparities in employment opportunities are reinforced through the social capital embedded in personal networks. In contrast, some migration scholars believe that the social capital embedded in migrant networks can potentially broaden access to migration, but few empirical studies exist. This paper furthers the understanding of migration stratification by integrating theoretical insights and novel data. We examine three pathways by which networks may perpetuate inequality in migration: network access, network mobilization, and network returns. In terms of access, low-status individuals may have less information or migrant contacts than high-status individuals. In terms of mobilization, low-status individuals may use their networks less in the migration process. In terms of network returns, low-status individuals may use their networks as often, but their networks may be less effective. Our survey data from the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) project, which documents migration processes and acts, allow us to distinguish among these processes. Our study reveals that access, mobilization and returns to migrant networks are deeply and differently stratified by individuals’ social positions. While high-status individuals have greater access to migrant networks, low-status prospective migrants are more likely to mobilize it to help finance the trip, and more dependent on migrant networks to migrate.


Sorana Toma is an Assistant Professor in Migration and Refugee Studies at Ghent University, within the Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR) and based at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. Her research focuses on the patterns, causes and consequences of international migration as well as on the dynamics shaping ethno-racial inequalities in European societies. An important focus of her work lies in how migrant networks influence migration and integration processes. She is currently a PI in the MOBILISE project, researching the intersections between migration and mass mobilization.