Globalization, Transnationalism & Development Colloquium: The role of formal and informal information in migrant decision making

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Date(s) - 23/11/16
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Grote Gracht 80-82, Spiegelzaal (Soiron Building) Maastricht


Organized in association with Maastricht Centre for Citizenship, Migration and Development (MACIMIDE)

The topic of this lecture is:

The role of formal and informal information in migrant decision making
By Djamila Schans

Research and Documentation Center (WODC)


Migrants use information to reduce uncertainty and to avoid risks. The availability of information has increased tremendously over the past decades, mainly due to the spread of online communications technology. Online communication tools such as Facebook and WhatsApp provide the opportunity to receive, discuss and evaluate information relevant to migration within transnational networks in real time. With this overload of available information it becomes more important to understand how migrants decide which information is valuable and trustworthy to them and how they make use of information during the migration process. Governmental migration information campaigns have mainly focused on the dangers involved in irregular migration yet it is unclear if these campaigns have any effect on actual migrant behavior. In 2016 the Scientific Research and Documentation Center (WODC) critically looked at the assumptions underlying such campaigns (Schans & Optekamp, 2016). The WODC also commissioned a study on how asylum migrants from Syria made use of social media before, during and after their journey (Dekker et al.,2016). Taken together these 2 studies provide an overview of the role of formal and informal information in migrant decision making processes. Results indicate that existing transnational social ties are the most important and the most trusted source of information. Communication with these ties often takes place via social media. Official information campaigns should be more aware that when alternatives to migration are not perceived as viable, behavioral effects of campaigns will be limited.

Djamila Schans is a researcher at the Research and Documentation Center (WODC). Her current research interests are asylum and migration. She previously worked in the NORFACE and WOTRO funded projects on transnational African families (TCRA and MAFE) in the GTD research program, Maastricht University. She was a Fulbright fellow at UCLA and a JSPS fellow at Ochanomizu University in Japan.

Upcoming GTD colloquia:
Dec 7, Caroline Wildeman, HIVOS- Netherlands
Jan 25, Clara Carvalho, Chair of the Center of International Studies (CEI-IUL).