87152 - Sociology Of International Migrations

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to have a general overview of international migrations, their main interpretative models, and some related issues; to manage the main concepts for the study of migrations, from the classic economy and the demography ones, to the more recent and promising approaches developed in history and sociology.

Course contents

In the early 1970s, the share of the foreign population in five countries of Mediterranean Europe – Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain – was decidedly small. In Italy, for example, the 1971 Census counted just 120 thousand foreign citizens, or 0.2% of the population. In this same period, foreigners made up 5.0% of the population in Sweden, 5.2% in Germany, 6.5% in France, and 7.2% in Belgium. Less than half a century later, these differences have disappeared. At the start of 2020, the number of foreigners living in these five Mediterranean countries exceeded 12 million and their incidence relative to the total population is comparable to that found in Central and Northern Europe. In Italy, the share of foreigners surpassed that of France in 2011, while already in 2007 in Spain it had grown to 10%, the highest share in Europe after Luxembourg and Switzerland. A process of convergence has clearly been achieved.

As early as the 1950s in some areas of Europe, the centuries-old tendency to export population towards other continents reversed and, beginning in the 1970s, Europe – considered as a whole – began to import more population than it exported. In reality, even in times of great emigration, Europe has always also been a continent of immigration, and over the course of time immigration has progressively become more important than emigration. This shift first began in Sweden, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and France in the 1950s, particularly due to post-war reconstruction needs, and subsequently spread to the United Kingdom, then to Southern Europe, nowadays to Eastern Europe.

International migration, and the settlement of immigrant minorities, has transformed Italy and Europe. The changes are visible at the social, political, demographic, economic, and cultural level, and raise some questions: Why do people migrate? Why do transnational flows persist across time and space? What happens to people after migration? Are immigrant minorities, and their offspring, part of the socio-economic fabric of the countries of arrival? What are the main outcomes in terms of membership, feeling of belonging, citizenship? How can we measure and assess immigrant integration and assimilation in the host countries? And what are the consequences of the rise and establishment of diverse and multiethnic societies in Europe?

The course will present the main theories and empirical research drawn from sociology, but with an interest in the contributions coming from history, demography, political science and anthropology, when needed. The course is centered on the European case, with an Italian focus, but within a broader comparative framework including the main active migratory systems in the contemporary world, and a period dating back no less than to the beginning of the 20th century.


For more details see the syllabus in Teaching Resources on VLE "Virtual Learning Environment".


Here you have a general view only. Please, refer only to the syllabus published in Teaching Resources on VLE "Virtual Learning Environment" (former Insegnamenti On Line IoL).


Attending students

Attending students will receive a detailed list of readings at the beginning of the course. These readings are usually research or theoretical articles from academic journals, sometimes reports or editorials on a topic from non-academic journals. All lecture readings are required and are considered part of the syllabus for the final exams. These readings will be part of the lectures, so the students will be required to read them in advance and to be prepared for every lecture. All readings will be available on-line on the university “Virtual Learning Environment” website (“VLE” from now on).

Non-attending students

Non-attending students are required to obtain the list of readings delivered at the beginning of the course and published on VLE (“Virtual Learning Environment”). They are also required to read this handbook:

- Gold, S. J., & Nawyn, S. J. (2013). Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies. Routledge. (Chapters: 1, 4-5, 8-17, 22-26, 28-47).

and all the 14 articles (except the reviews, marked with “Review of” in the title) included in this anthology:

- MacKellar, L., & McNicoll, G. (2019). International Migration: An Anthology from Population and Development Review. (available on this website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/page/journal/17284457/homepage/specialonlineissue )

The exam is written and consists in answering to open questions on the reading list, the book and the articles included in the anthology.

Teaching methods

Here you will find a general view only. Please, refer only to the syllabus published in Teaching Resources on VLE "Virtual Learning Environment" (former Insegnamenti On Line IoL).


The course consists in 20 lessons, two lessons a week for ten weeks. For the most part of the course, the lessons will be split in two parts. A first, longer part, will be devoted to the presentation of specific topics, for example “theories of international migrations”, “the role of families in international migrations” and so on. A second, smaller part, will be dedicated to the discussion of debatable or contentious points emerging from the reading of the assigned papers.

The remaining lessons will be devoted to group presentations and individual assignments (see below).

In order to gain a deeper understanding of some specific topics, the course will host special lectures from invited speakers.

Assessment methods

Here you will find a general view only. Please, refer only to the syllabus published in Teaching Resources on VLE "Virtual Learning Environment" (former Insegnamenti On Line IoL).


The course is mainly conceived for attending students.

For attending students there will be no final exam. The final grade is calculated on the basis of four assignments: four small essays, a statistical profile, a transcribed and commented recorded interview with an immigrant. Every assignment has a deadline. No assignment will be accepted beyond the deadline.

· A statistical profile of an immigrant community in two countries, or of two immigrant communities in a single country (criteria, characteristics and due date to be announced)

· Interview Project (criteria, characteristics and due date to be announced)

· Four small (1,000-word) essays based on readings and lectures, taken from five every student is asked to do (these will be assigned in class) 

· Class participation, both on-line and off-line 

 More details will be provided at the beginning of the course.


For non-attending students

The exam is written and consists in answering to open questions on all the papers and chapters on the reading list, the books and the articles included in the anthology.

Teaching tools

The course uses three main teaching tools. First: a list of the readings provided to students. Second: websites pointing to research institutions and statistical sources with which everyone is expected to familiarize. Third: the slides shown during the course and provided on-line on the VLE (“Virtual Learning Environment”) after the end of the second lesson of each week.

Office hours

See the website of Asher Daniel Colombo