Linking Micro and Macro Levels: The Role of the State and Migrants in the Nordic Countries

Karen Nielsen Breidahl, Barbara Fersch

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaper without publisher/journalResearchpeer-review


Migrant transnationalism as a new paradigm within migration studies has provided us with the inspiration to shed light on the fact that migration transcends the borders of the nation state, thus pointing to a blind spot of conventional assimilationist premises. However, one of the major shortcomings of this new perspective is the neglect of the on-going importance of the state for migration processes. Waldinger & Fitzgerald (2004) therefore propose that, instead of building upon one of the two paradigms (assimilationalism and transnationalism), migration research should investigate how state and migration processes intersect as an empirically open question. In this paper we argue that one dimension of the relevance of the state has been overseen in the debate so far, namely that institutional characteristics and experiences with state institutions in the receiving country can also become relevant when it comes to the migrants’ dispositions. The role and relevance of these policy feedback processes for the migrants’ orientations and values will be discussed with an outset in the Nordic welfare states (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) and their social policies as a case due to their ‘strong’ welfare states and extended state capacity. Thereby, the paper aims to contribute to development of a deeper understanding of the role of the state for migration processes without forgetting about the transnational nature of the phenomenon of migration.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInterrogating Inequality: Linking Micro and Macro: 108th ASA Annual Meeting - New York, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201313 Aug 2013


ConferenceInterrogating Inequality: Linking Micro and Macro
CountryUnited States
CityNew York


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