Social Inequalities, Social Closure, and Cross-border Migration in Africa

Pascal AGBADI (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Migration theories can be divided into two categories: those that explain the motivations behind crossborder migration (micro-level) and those that focus on the factors that create the context in which such decisions are made (macro-level). While neoclassical migration theories have primarily emphasized economically motivated voluntary explanations, they have been criticized for their inability to account for political factors that also influence migration decisions. Meanwhile, existing macro-level theories have connected cross-border migration to within emigration region and spatial economic inequalities. However, sociologists have called for greater attention to the mechanisms of social inequalities and their impact on migration. To address these issues, the present study was conducted using cross-country migration intention data from 33 African countries and other databases. The study found that migration decisions in Africa are motivated by both economic and political reasons, contrary to the focus of neoclassical migration theories. Additionally, the study employed Max Weber's concept of social closure to examine the impact of unequal access to political goods and economic opportunities on migration dynamics in Africa. The results showed that in addition to income inequality, exclusions based on class, group, gender, and political party membership from economic opportunities and civil liberties are also important in explaining migration decisions in Africa. In conclusion, existing migration theories have limitations in their ability to explain the complex factors that motivate cross-border migration. The study highlights the importance of considering political factors and the mechanisms of social inequalities in understanding migration decisions in Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning: Intersections of Research, Society & Postgraduate Education - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 31 Mar 20231 Apr 2023


ConferencePostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning
CityHong Kong


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