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Sociology of Migration and Diversity


Entry requirements

This course is part of the LDE Master’s degree Governance of Migration and Diversity. It is not accessible for BA students, or MA students from other specialisations.


This course is given at and by the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and is part of the Governance of Migration and Diversity Master programme.

Over the last four decades, immigration has transformed European societies including the Netherlands. This course gives a state-of-the-art overview of the most important theoretical debates in, and empirical research findings of, the sociology of international migration and immigrant integration. We start with exploring dominant economic and sociological explanations of international migration: Why do people migrate? We then consider immigrant incorporation, the process by which foreign-born “outsiders” become integrated in the new society, often changing it in the process.

After discussing the most important sociological conceptualisations of immigrant incorporation (assimilation, segmented assimilation, different conceptualisations of ‘integration’) and historical developments in these conceptualisations, we turn to two different aspects of immigrant integration: labour market participation (“structural integration”) of migrants and impeding factors (incl. labour market discrimination) and social-cultural integration. With regard to the latter, we particularly focus on how the migration experience impacts religion, and whether religion impedes or facilitates immigrant incorporation. Furthermore, we go into socio-cultural integration in the form of interethnic contacts, and analyse the determinants of pro- and anti-immigration attitudes.

We end with a discussion of the phenomenon of return migration and ‘transnationalism’. Migration is not a single movement from one country to another, but results in lasting relations between sending and receiving countries, which tends to stimulate more migration (both in the form of chain migration and return migration), and may impede immigrant integration in the host country.

Course objectives

After successfully completing the course, students are able to:

  • Explain and critically assess relevant economic and sociological theories (neo-classical economic explanation, new economics of labour migrations, historical-structural explanations, cumulative causation, social network theory, migration cultures, etc.) about the causes of migration and discuss how variousdisciplinary approaches of migration provide different, but sometimes supplementary explanations of migration

  • Explain and critically assess the similarities and differences between the most prevalent concepts that are being used to conceptualise immigrant incorporation (assimilation, segmented assimilation, integration, multiculturalism, postnational citizenship, denizenship), and why some of these concepts have been criticized in the social sciences;

  • Explain - and discuss relevant findings on - individual and international variation in the structural and socio-cultural integration of immigrants

  • Explain to what extent and why there are international and historical differences in how immigrants are perceived by non-immigrants and discuss these differences in terms of relevant sociological concepts (such as multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and nativism)

  • Understand micro and macro-level variation in return migration, and critically assess the capacity of governments to influence return rates (among rejected asylum seekers).

  • take a position of their own with regards to one of the course themes in the form of a position paper.


For more information, see the EUR Timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • Written paper: 40%

  • Exam: 40%

  • Class preparation: 20%

For more information on the assessment method, contact dr. A.S. Leerkes

Reading List

The following handbook is available at the University Library:

  • Michael Samers (2015, 2th edition), Migration. London: Routledge (Key Ideas in Geography)

In addition, a number of articles are available on the digital learning environment.


Not applicable.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


EUR course description dr. A.S. Leerkes


Not applicable.