In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Immigration

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews and Textbooks
  • Data Sources
  • Journals
  • Migration Theories
  • Citizenship, Membership, Rights, and Belonging
  • Transnationalism
  • Integration Theories
  • Where Migrants Live
  • Political Mobilization and Civic Inclusion
  • Migration and Development

Sociology Immigration
Irene Bloemraad, Edwin Lin
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 July 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0026


The field of immigration research is broadly interested in understanding why people migrate across international borders, and what the consequences of migration are for the individuals involved, as well as the people and societies they enter and leave behind. In some countries, more than one in five residents were not born in the country where they live, while the economies of other countries are heavily dependent on the money that migrants send back. Migration thus affects a wide range of societies around the globe and can affect almost all aspects of human life. Sociologists consequently seek to explain population movements and state policies of migration control, debate theories of integration across a range of human activities, and consider the consequences of migration for development, national identities, and conceptions of membership in a world increasingly characterized by human relationships that span the borders of contemporary nation-states. Sociologists who work on migration do so in conversation with scholars drawn from many disciplines, including anthropology, demography, economics, ethnic studies, geography, history, legal studies, and political science. Given that the sociological field of migration studies is fundamentally interdisciplinary, any bibliography must be multidisciplinary, and it will invariably provide only a very small snapshot of the whole. The snapshot below, to remain manageable, is restricted to English-language publications, and it provides greater coverage of the US case than of other countries or regions of the world.

General Overviews and Textbooks

Immigration can be studied from multiple perspectives, from law and political science to sociology and anthropology. Brettell and Hollifield 2007 provides a nice introduction to how the field of immigration is approached by different disciplines. Kivisto and Faist 2010 is a good follow-up volume, providing a more in-depth discussion of migration-related theorizing from a sociological perspective. Combining theory and descriptive information, general readers wanting an overview of migration on a global scale should consult Castles and Miller 2009. Massey, et al. 1998 is a denser discussion of migration theories and data for more advanced students, with particular attention to economic, social, and cultural forces behind migration. Cornelius, et al. 2004 focuses instead on government policy and contains detailed country profiles. For those interested in immigration and integration in the United States, Portes and Rumbaut 2006 offers an accessible overview that can be read as a whole, whereas the collection Waters and Ueda 2007 is a reference handbook readers can consult for specific topics.

  • Brettell, Caroline, and James Hollifield. 2007. Migration theory: Talking across disciplines. 2d ed. New York: Routledge.

    This book offers a nice introduction to immigration studies by bringing together nine experts on migration from different disciplinary backgrounds. Each expert discusses how migration is conceived and theorized in his or her field.

  • Castles, Stephen, and Mark J. Miller. 2009. The age of migration: International population movements in the modern world. 4th ed. New York: Guilford.

    Part textbook, part academic argument, this book provides both a descriptive and an explanatory overview of immigration. The style is accessible and there is a companion website that provides additional, current information on migration.

  • Cornelius, W., T. Tsuda, J. Hollifield, and P. Martin, eds. 2004. Controlling immigration: Global perspectives. 2d ed. Stanford CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

    This book offers a useful and broad comparative look at immigration policies in nine industrialized democracies. Beyond description, the chapters examine whether countries are converging in their migration policies, and whether there is a gap between policy intentions and actual migration dynamics.

  • Kivisto, Peter J., and Thomas Faist. 2010. Beyond a border: The causes and consequences of contemporary immigration. Sociology for a New Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

    Taking a critical look at immigration literature, this book surveys the state of knowledge on diverse topics within migration studies, including migration flows, theories of assimilation and transnationalism, and debates around multiculturalism and citizenship. The authors discuss the shortcomings of existing models and suggest areas for future research.

  • Massey, Douglas S., Joaquin Arango, Graeme Hugo, Ali Kouaouci, Adela Pellegrino, and J. Edward Taylor. 1998. Worlds in motion: Understanding international migration at the end of the millennium. International Studies in Demography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Beginning with an assessment and synthesis of migration theories, this book provides a descriptive overview of migration patterns around the world, placing special emphasis on how theories apply (or do not apply) to different world regions.

  • Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. 2006. Immigrant America: A portrait. 3d ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

    This accessible book provides a broad perspective on the migration and, especially, integration experiences of immigrants and their children in the United States. Chapters cover such diverse topics as religion, education, incarceration, economic integration, acculturation, political participation, language acquisition, and mental health challenges.

  • Waters, Mary C., and Reed Ueda, eds. 2007. The new Americans: A guide to immigration since 1965. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard Univ. Press.

    This comprehensive volume brings together succinct overviews by leading scholars on a wide array of topics on immigration in the United States: from ethnicity, assimilation, and policy to refugees, transnationalism, and gender. The volume also provides a short overview of thirty-one immigrant groups from different regions/countries around the world.

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