Current approaches in modern migration studies: some critical remarks


The article focuses on the issue of highlighting the approaches being tested in contemporary migration studies to demonstrate their limits – conceptual, methodological, and methodical – as analytical tools. The three most popular research perspectives, namely positivism, relativism, and critical realism, are taken as a basis. The author substantiates the idea that the approach accumulates a much broader context than just the instrumental one, which correlates to the realization of an exclusively methodical function. Since by choosing one of the forms of analytics, scholars outline the ontological and epistemological framework of the methodology in the study of migration. Based on the key provisions (principles) of each approach, the author characterizes them as general scientific and specialized tools (for migration scholars) and identifies the different by nature shortcomings and opportunities for applying the obtained results. A particular focus is on demonstrating examples of research works that test these approaches. It is argued that positivism and relativism are monofactorial, less critical and more superficial (flatness) approaches compared to critical realism, characterized by stratified ontological realism, methodological pluralism, and judgment rationality. It is shown that the reasons for the popularity of positivist and relativist types of thinking are the methodological possibility of simplifying political issues and applying knowledge about migration to legitimize certain political beliefs and actions, on the one hand, and their deep internal hierarchization, which provides flexibility and opportunities for improvement, on the other. Finally, the author emphasizes the prospects for further research focusing on the scientific (revision of positivism and relativism under the necessities of the present), philosophical (rethinking the epistemological and practical components of the approach, balancing them) and practical (the need for higher representativeness of research conducted within the framework of critical realism) dimensions of migration issues.

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