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Transnational Migration Contesting Borders of Responsibility for Justice

  • Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Sociology


The article focuses on structural causes of migration, putting forward an argument that such analysis sheds light on key shortcomings of today’s global geopolitical regime. First the author analyzes structural causes of transnational migration in global capitalism. She argues that transnational migrants represent a structural group of people who find themselves in a similar position in relation to social structures of current global economic architecture even though they do not necessarily have a collective identity. Second, the author discusses the methodological and practical limits of the current nation-state defined framework of responsibility for global justice which does not respond to structural causes of transnational migration and reproduces the internal contradictions of the international human rights regime. Following this critical analysis, the author focuses on the possibilities of extraterritorial obligations for justice, which are partly embedded in the current international law. Then she outlines an argument for a differentiated responsibility for global justice.
Critical Sociology
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DOI: 10.1177/0896920518798892
Transnational Migration Contesting
Borders of Responsibility for Justice
Zuzana Uhde
Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
The article focuses on structural causes of migration, putting forward an argument that such
analysis sheds light on key shortcomings of today’s global geopolitical regime. First the author
analyzes structural causes of transnational migration in global capitalism. She argues that
transnational migrants represent a structural group of people who find themselves in a similar
position in relation to social structures of current global economic architecture even though they
do not necessarily have a collective identity. Second, the author discusses the methodological and
practical limits of the current nation-state defined framework of responsibility for global justice
which does not respond to structural causes of transnational migration and reproduces the
internal contradictions of the international human rights regime. Following this critical analysis,
the author focuses on the possibilities of extraterritorial obligations for justice, which are partly
embedded in the current international law. Then she outlines an argument for a differentiated
responsibility for global justice.
extraterritorial obligations, global capitalism, global justice, structural injustice, transnational
Migration is a topic that resonates today in public debates and is high on a global agenda. However,
what is often omitted in these debates as well as in much of the research on migration are the struc-
tural causes of migration – transnational conflicts, proxy wars, geo-strategic resource rivalries,
global economic architecture and inequalities, etc. – and their broader theoretical analysis. The
proposed solutions thus stay on the surface. Although one can rely on international conventions
guaranteeing human rights and social security for people regardless of their citizenship, the
migrants’ lived experience shows significant gaps in their access to these rights. Transnational
migration sheds light not only on the malfunctioning of the global political regime but as a starting
point of social analysis it also helps us challenge some of the widely accepted assumptions of the
Corresponding author:
Zuzana Uhde, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Sociology, Jilská 1, 11000 Praha, Czech Republic.
798892CRS0010.1177/0896920518798892Critical SociologyUhde
2 Critical Sociology 00(0)
social sciences and normative claims derived from them. Analysis of transnational migration thus
opens a broader issue of global justice.
In this article, first I focus on structural causes of transnational migration resulting from the
contradictions of global capitalism, against the backdrop of which I discuss the problematic con-
struction of categories of political migrants/refugees (deserving of admission and legal protection)
and those of economic migrants (not deserving of admission).1 In the second part, I analyze the
methodological and practical limits of the current dual approach: on the one hand, borderless in
relation to the market and trade; and on the other, border-restricted when it comes to responsibility
for global justice and realization of human rights. I argue that the analysis of structural injustice in
relation to migration shows that the current nation-state defined framework of responsibility for
global justice fails. The critical analysis of structural causes of transnational migration and a cri-
tique of an inadequate approach rooted in methodological nationalism is a necessary first step in
articulating normative requirements of appropriate solutions. I focus on the possibilities of extra-
territorial obligations partly embedded in current international law, which are already politically
acknowledged in relation to issues such as gender equity, although not yet realized, and will also
point out their limitations. Finally, I outline an argument for a differentiated responsibility for
global justice.
The Sources of Structural Injustice and Transnational Migration
According to the latest United Nations International Migration Report (UN, 2017), there were 258
million transnational migrants worldwide in 2017, representing 3.4% of the world’s population.
Towards the end of 2016, the number of refugees and asylum seekers was estimated at 25.9 mil-
lion, i.e. 10.1% of transnational migrants. Although the number of migrants is rising (173 million
transnational migrants globally in 2000, 220 million in 2010, and 248 million migrants worldwide
in 2015), about half of all transnational migrants remain in the same macro-region they come from,
and 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries, with Turkey, Uganda and
Pakistan hosting the highest number of refugees who come most often from Syria, South Sudan
and Afghanistan.2 The transnational migration statistics thus show that migration is distributed
among the world macro-regions more evenly than is commonly assumed and presented in most
alarmist media coverage.
Today, intensifying global interactions make social relations and global risks more intercon-
nected, with processes and actions in one part of the world having a significant impact elsewhere
(Beck, 2009). Migration and unstable transnational financial markets are an illuminating example
of this social dynamics. Leslie Sklair (2002) argues that it is important to make a distinction
between generic globalization and capitalist globalization. While capitalist globalization repre-
sents one particular historical form of globalization, which is associated with a whole array of
negative consequences, in general some global interactions are needed in order to address global
structural injustices created by global capitalism. This also implies that nostalgic anti-globalization
nationalist tendencies relying on the naturalized idea of the nation state3 are hitting the wrong tar-
get with their simplified criticism of globalization. The scope of a more progressive form of social
organization and political institutions needs to correspond to the levels at which today’s conflicts
and injustice are generated.
William Robinson (2004, 2012, 2014) defines capitalist globalization as the fourth stage in the
development of the capitalist system.4 In his view, global capitalism is a qualitatively new stage
where transnational circuits of production and accumulation are formed, and so is a transnational
capitalist class, which is no longer aligned with any particular state. In contrast to the world system
theory, which sees globalization as a quantitative process of integrating national economies into the
Uhde 3
world economy, Robinson formulates a theory of global capitalism that interprets contemporary
global interactions as a qualitative change accompanied by the disruption of national accumulation
circuits and their reintegration into a new global accumulation circuit. This important analytical step
allows Robinson to overcome methodological nationalism which prevails not only in the social sci-
ences, in general, but also in research on migration (Sager, 2018; Wimmer and Schiller, 2002) and
which overshadows the structural causes of transnational migration. The current slowdown in global
trade growth after the 2008 economic crisis or the call of some political actors to protect local econo-
mies do not reverse the dominant long-term tendencies of the global economic system, which passes
through globalizing and deglobalizing stages and is shaped by competing groups within the transna-
tional capitalist class (Harris, 2016; Hrubec, 2013; Robinson, 2012, 2014; Sklair, 2016).
With regard to the development of the global capitalist system, Leslie Sklair (2003) redefines
the classical definition of the capitalist class. He argues that “globalization of capitalism can only
be adequately understood when ownership and control of money capital is augmented with owner-
ship and control of other types of capital, notably political, organizational, cultural, and knowledge
capital” (Sklair, 2003: 17). According to him, the transnational capitalist class today is composed
of four fractions: the corporate fraction that includes the owners of the major corporations and
managers who run and supervise them, the state fraction composed of global bureaucrats and poli-
ticians at international, national and local levels aligning with global capital, the technical fraction
made up of professionals in global labor markets, and the consumerist fraction, which consists, in
particular, of actors controlling the media (Sklair, 2003: 17–23). Sklair shows that the economic
interests of the transnational capitalist class are increasingly global. The main actors include trans-
national corporations and international and supranational institutions (World Bank, International
Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, etc.) as well as the major state powers which promote,
in a concerted effort with all fractions of the transnational capitalist class, a global capitalist project
through free trade agreements, neoliberal development projects and policies and/or by inciting war
conflicts. The state fraction of the transnational capitalist class allows transnational corporations to
promote their interests on the internationally organized political scene (including UN) through the
major state powers. Thus, the nation-state institution still plays an important role here, and follow-
ing the 2008 crisis, the transnational capitalist class has used it to a great extent in some respects.
In a number of cases, Western states contribute to and enable with their actions the negative work-
ings of transnational corporations, while making use of the colonial history and the ensuing geopo-
litical hierarchy to maintain their influential position. On the other hand, the possibilities of smaller
and poorer states, in particular, to act against the largest transnational corporations are quite lim-
ited. In the current globally interconnected world, nation states cannot always guarantee human
rights of people within their territory.
From a long-term historical perspective, the development of capitalism is coupled with con-
quest, and this military aspect is now undergoing transnational transformation, too – the spatial
conquest of new markets has been replaced by the creation of new markets, which are connected
to military interventions and repressive measures. Jerry Harris (2008) insightfully analyzes the
rivalry of the national and transnational components of the capitalist class within the military-
industrial complex in the United States in the wake of September 11, 2001. Given the fact that the
military-industrial complex is aligned with the political institutions of the great superpowers, with
the US wielding a hegemonic position, militarized accumulation, as Robinson (2014) puts it,
becomes part of the global economy in which it patches the problem of excessive accumulation.
Robinson argues that militarized accumulation does not foreshadow a new era of imperialism,
militarized accumulation now is not the same as previous “military Keynesianism,” since much of warfare
itself and the related processes of social control and repression have been privatized or semiprivatized.
4 Critical Sociology 00(0)
[…] militarized accumulation now ranges from the replacement of state soldiers by mercenary armies
(“private security firms”), to the subcontracting of reconstruction projects, military engineering, the
contraction of military and conflict-related installations, the supplying of food, consumer items, and
services to occupation armies, the construction of private prisons and “security walls,” and even the
subcontracting of torture and interrogation. (Robinson, 2014: 151)
Repressive practices against undocumented migrants, border security and control, detention facili-
ties and other related migrant business are part of this militarized accumulation (Trujillo-Pagán,
2014).5 Conflicts and wars which spark displacement and migration are often falsely interpreted as
if they are exclusively the result of civil conflicts between local ethic groups and/or a failed state
controlled by corrupted government. However, causes of such political violence are historically
embedded in global geopolitics and exacerbated within global capitalism. Alison J. Ayers (2010)
supports this argument through the case of Sudan. Daniel Robicheau (2014) analyzes the embed-
dedness of the Syrian conflict within global capitalism. In general, analyses of transnational prac-
tices of global capitalism show that they bring about consequences such as increasing global
inequalities and poverty, transnational conflicts and wars, deterioration of public services and gov-
ernance, global risks, including environmental risks, which constitute structural causes of transna-
tional migration.
Transnational practices of global capitalism contribute to rising migration from poorer countries
and to the retaliatory closing of borders and criminalization of migration in richer countries. In
2017, 64% of 258 million transnational migrants lived in high-income countries (UN, 2017).
However, intra-continental migration is dominant; for example, 67% of transnational migrants in
Europe come from Europe, in Asia it amounts to 60%, and in Africa to 53%. Regarding the growth
rate, the number of migrants in Africa rose fastest between 2000 and 2017 – 3% per year on aver-
age. Nevertheless, most transnational migrants come from Asia (106 million) followed by migrants
from Europe (61 million). Women account for about half of the migrants crossing borders world-
wide (48.4% in 2017), but slightly more women than men come to Europe, for example (52% in
2017). Transnational migrants are among the most vulnerable groups, for whom it is difficult to
enjoy internationally recognized human rights that they are formally guaranteed, such as the right
to health care, the right to education, the right to a family, etc. Migration entails an increased risk
of life, violence and abuse. Gender-based violence poses a significant risk for women, in particular.
The working conditions of migrants, including wages, are generally worse than those of the domes-
tic population; they more often face discrimination, violation of labor rights and exploitation.
Practices in detention centers and the criminalization of migrants systematically reproduce their
disadvantaged position and allow for their human rights to be violated. Irregular migrants find
themselves in a particularly vulnerable position (De Genova, 2002; Estévez, 2012; Schierup and
Jørgensen, 2016; ; Schierup et al., 2015; UN, 2017).
While most of the restrictive measures of migration policies are institutionalized at the level of
nation states, their driving force and causes are transnational and global, hence these actions, too,
are part of the dynamics of global interactions.6 Although global interactions and conflicts, which
are co-shaped by influential actors within global capitalism – ranging from transnational corpora-
tions, international institutions, to transnational and national politicians – form structural causes of
inequality and migration, economic and social reasons for migration are not perceived as legiti-
mate in political debates. Moreover, much of the research within migration studies when dealing
with causes of migration and economic factors focuses on push and pull factors to which individual
migrants or individuals considering needs of their family and community (which is already a cor-
rective to an excessive individualism of neoclassical rational choice theories) react. Even much of
research which problematizes the straightforward supply and demand analysis by including
Uhde 5
historical and cultural factors, social networks and transnational ties, fails to systematically link the
issue of migration to the broader social theory of global economy and transformations (Castles,
2010).7 As a result, a bulk of migration research in fact supports migration policies which implic-
itly define people’s mobility owing to the above-stated reasons as a free choice or a result of a
failed state (and hence an internal matter of that state). The international human rights regime
defined by Seyla Benhabib as “a set of interrelated and overlapping global and regional regimes
that encompass human rights treaties as well as customary international law or international soft
law” (Benhabib, 2006: 27) excludes individuals who migrate for non-political reasons (i.e. other
reasons apart from persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a par-
ticular social group, or political opinion) from the international protection of refugees. Since the
adoption of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, this definition has been the sub-
ject of critical debates, as it is obvious that it does not meet the needs of individuals whose lives are
endangered due to war conflicts, other humanitarian disasters and economic and social hardship.
Ariadna Estévez summarizes that
the universal legislation concerning refugees […] continues to exclude many modern migrants […] – in
particular those people fleeing as a result of the structural properties of globalization in general (i.e., those
people fleeing for economic or environmental reasons, or for reasons of persecution by nonstate agents
such as guerrillas, paramilitary organizations, or organized crime). (2012: 30)
Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone the right to emigration,
it does not specify the obligation on the part of States to accept migrants in their territory. Benhabib
thus concludes that this leads to “a series of internal contradictions between universal human rights
and territorial sovereignty” (Benhabib, 2006: 30). However, even proposals to extend the defini-
tion of refugees do not go far enough with regard to the transformation of global capitalism and
interconnection of social relations.
Given the fact that economic and social reasons are dismissed as legitimate reasons for migra-
tion, many migrants end up in the receiving country without a valid permit as so-called irregular
migrants. Nicolas De Genova (2002: 438) argues that the construction of the “illegality” of migrants
and the threat of deportation “has historically rendered undocumented migrant labor a distinctly
disposable commodity”. According to him, there exists structurally exploited labor created as a
result of the threat of deportation of migrants without a permit (and indirectly of regular migrants
as well). This structural exploitation is the product of immigration law of the nation state, which is
applied through “an active process of inclusion through ‘illegalization’” (De Genova, 2002: 439).
The phenomenon of economic and social migration shed light on the functioning of the global
economic system and the complicit role of the institutions of the nation state. The migrants’ lived
experience shows that these factors not only strongly affect quality of life, the possibility to develop
in a meaningful manner their own capacities and to make plans for the future, but they also dra-
matically restrict an individual’s possibility to control and predict the results of their actions.
People’s decision to migrate is their active choice, but it is not a free choice because it is fundamen-
tally influenced by structural constraints.
I interpret economic reasons for migration as fundamental material hardship resulting in strug-
gles to meet basic needs for survival. In contrast, I interpret social reasons as less urgent from an
existential point of view, although they are closely related to the economic situation. Moreover, this
is a conceptual distinction because in reality different reasons for migration are intertwined and
cannot be sharply separated. Social reasons include efforts to ensure basic social needs and ability
to make plans for the future, to shape one’s own life in a meaningful direction. These have to do
with responsibility towards one’s own children, relatives, or with plans to have children that one
6 Critical Sociology 00(0)
cannot accomplish under given social and economic conditions in the country of origin. In other
words, social reasons are not about mere survival, but rather about having opportunities for self-
realization. Economic and social migration is an active expression of the struggle against mis-
recognition in everyday life. To some extent, it is a paradox then that life in migration represents
yet another phase of confrontation with misrecognition (Uhde, 2018).
The institutionalized structures of global capitalism produce global structural injustices. Iris M.
Young emphasizes that structural injustices are not the result of deliberate action by individual
actors or state institutions. Structural injustice, as Young puts it, is
a kind of moral wrong distinct from the wrongful action of an individual agent or the willfully repressive
policies of a state. Structural injustice occurs as a consequence of many individuals and institutions acting
in pursuit of their particular goals and interests, within given institutional rules and accepted norms.
(Young, 2006: 114)
Young, therefore, does not reify structures; she points out that social structures exist only in the
actions of people reproducing or transforming these structures through their actions, but these
structures represent also a scope of possibilities and limitations of people’s future actions. Structural
injustices are thus the result of intersubjective interactions over the course of the long-term histori-
cal development of power relations, institutionalized marginalization, exploitation and violence,
and the intended and unintended consequences of collective action and institutional interactions. In
order to be able to denote a group of people exposed to structural injustices, the collective subject
must also be defined in relation to social structures. Young defines a structural social group in jux-
taposition to a cultural group as a group of people who occupy a similar position within social
structures regardless of whether they identify themselves as a group (Young, 2000). For instance,
women are an example of a structural group. Despite the fact that the status and possibilities of
individual women differ as a result of other socially ascribed characteristics, and even though they
do not form a social group with a shared identity, they do find themselves in a similar position – in
relation to the gendered structures of division of labor, normative heteronormativity and gender
power hierarchies – that has material consequences for the potential development of their life
opportunities and self-realization (Young, 2005).
While migration is often associated with issues of intercultural interactions, differences in cul-
tural norms and migrants’ practices in comparison to the majority, and with the confrontation
between the politics of assimilation and inclusion, this aspect appears to be secondary. According
to Young (2000), cultural differences become the subject of politics once they are linked, as they
often are, with structural inequalities. Many conflicts that are presented as cultural (or ethnic) ones
are not cultural per se; rather they are socio-political conflicts, since they arise from struggles over
territory, resources, profit, labor market participation and decision-making. While acknowledging
the cultural and social differences between different groups of migrants, if we are to unveil struc-
tural injustices, migrants need to be understood as a structural social group. That is, a group of
people who share a specific position in relation to social structures and institutionalized relation-
ships which restrict their possibilities to develop their capacities, express their opinions, voice their
experience, and take part in defining the conditions of their lives. Migrants thus represent a trans-
national collective subject even when they do not form a collectively organized political subject.
Due to structural constraints, migrants can afford to stage traditional forms of protest only to a very
limited extent. Structural barriers notwithstanding, migrants do enact their own stories and, in their
everyday lives, they struggle against global poverty, geopolitical and institutional violence, their
misrecognition as equal moral beings, and lack of recognition of their work performance. Despite
the significant structural constraints, we need to acknowledge that migrants develop strategies
Uhde 7
through which they actively seek to shape their own lives, and in their everyday struggles they
target the current system that systematically harms them. In their lived critique they challenge the
state institutions which discriminate against them in a situation they see is beyond their control. To
a significant extent it is also beyond the control of the country of their origin because the structures
and actions that make up the causes and conditions of migration transcend the nation-state frame-
work. Many countries from which migrants come are in a weak negotiating position towards large
transnational corporations or global superpowers. This is the reason why we can argue that migrants
in their everyday struggles express their lived critique of the nation-state centered institutional
framework in which they are caught up.8 I suggest that although marginalized transnational
migrants do not necessarily internalize cosmopolitan consciousness, understanding marginalized
migrants as a structural group allows us to capture their lived critique as an expression of their
critique of legitimacy of present-day global order and internationally defined framework of politics
and law and as a source of cosmopolitan claims from below without romanticizing migrants as
being inherently cosmopolitan.9
Extraterritorial Obligations for Justice
Global interactions create not only inequalities and conflicts, but they also open windows of oppor-
tunities for actors to extend the scope of their social struggles beyond the nation state’s borders. I
argue that the critical analysis of capitalist globalization which produces structural sources of
transnational migration and against which marginalized migrants struggle in their everyday lives is
a first step in articulating normative proposals. However, the analysis of transnational and global
structural injustices and the formulation of responses to them require a revisiting of the current
prevailing view of the world seen exclusively through its division into nation states. Given the
transformed transnational capitalist class and the use of the nation-state apparatus by major eco-
nomic actors, we ought to redefine our analytical tools and to choose an adequate analytical meas-
ure to capture transnational causes and consequences of individual phenomena, including migration.
According to Ulrich Beck (2006), one of the main critics of methodological nationalism, we need
to adopt a cosmopolitan perspective. From the cosmopolitan perspective, which does not delineate
the subject matter of research interest, but rather analytical starting points from which a particular
issue is explored, one has to then analyze different levels – ranging from global and transnational,
through macro-regional to national and local. Methodological nationalism refers to the approach
that analyzes social processes and phenomena exclusively from the perspective of nation states and
their mutual relations. It represents an often hidden assumption of the social sciences that ahistori-
cally treats the nation state as a self-evident unit of analysis of processes and phenomena.
Methodological nationalism reflects and at once legitimizes a similarly inadequate practice of real
politics, characterized by a dual approach of the current global political economy, which promotes
transnational trade and markets without borders while simultaneously placing the responsibility for
global justice within the borders of nation states.
From the point of view of methodological nationalism, migration appears to be a problematic
deviation from the norm. Alex Sager argues that political theories (specifically Anglo-American
tradition) when dealing with migration have for the most part adopted the cognitive bias of meth-
odological nationalism and as a result the predominant focus is on immigration. I do not need to
replicate his in-depth discussion and critique of leading political theorists of migration and indi-
vidual streams of thought (see Sager, 2018). He summarizes that the “paradigm of ‘methodological
nationalism’ ignores transnational networks, associations, and organizations and global social and
economic structures. This in turn, blinds political theorists to questions of agency and structure and
to causal relations that entail moral responsibilities” (Sager, 2013: 1). Categories such as citizen,
8 Critical Sociology 00(0)
immigrant, emigrant, tourist, or brain drain respectively are, according to him, embedded in the
paradigm of methodological nationalism without this being reflected in political theories. The dis-
tinction between migrants and expats then includes a symbolic distinction between the undesirable
migration from poorer countries to the richer ones, and the desirable migration of experts from
richer nations. Although methodological nationalism is presented as a neutral approach, it is based
on concealed ideological assumptions linked to the territorial sovereignty of nation states and the
conceptualization of society as a social unit which naturally overlaps with the territory of the mod-
ern nation state (Beck and Sznaider, 2006; Wimmer and Schiller, 2002).
Beck suggests that we need to elaborate a different analytical approach, which he calls methodo-
logical cosmopolitanism (Beck, 2006).10 In his social theory, he develops the position of cosmo-
politan realism, which focuses on emerging cosmopolitan tendencies in transnational forms of life,
norms and institutions. Methodological cosmopolitanism guides social analyses to focus on the
really-existing processes of cosmopolitanization, which is a necessary first step for the formulation
of normative proposals. The goal is not to articulate a fully-fledged blueprint of global justice but
to embed normative proposals in critical diagnosis and actors’ claims. Life in migration is an illus-
trative example of the transnationalization of forms of life; however, people who do not migrate
also participate in global interactions by way of global consumer practices and indirectly through
the global consequences of their actions. At the same time, changes in global markets and the
activities of transnational corporations impact on the lives of people in local contexts. Methodological
cosmopolitanism in the social sciences zeroes in on global interactions that bring about new forms
of sociability, the transformation of the role of nation states as well as transnational economic,
political and cultural practices, their unintended consequences and associated risks. However, from
the perspective of methodological cosmopolitanism, one can also examine the local and national
dynamics in its social complexity. This approach works with the definition of a cosmopolitan soci-
ety in which the universal concept of humanity is consistent with partial solidarities and national
and local ties (Beck, 2006; Fine, 2007; Sager, 2018). In this framework, one can thus approach
migration as a legitimate movement of people who respond, according to resources they have, to
the external conditions, the influencing of which is beyond the possibilities of their individual
actions. These external conditions are the product of the actions of many individual and collective
actors in a globally interconnected world, and the unintended consequences of those actions, which
implies shared political responsibility for dealing with the consequences that have materialized in
other parts of the world.11 However, Beck points out that the really-existing processes of cosmo-
politanization are not identical to the mobile and consumerist lifestyle of the transnational capital-
ist class and global elites that only make use of cosmopolitan arguments in an instrumental fashion
in order to reproduce the existing unjust global order.
Methodological nationalism in the social sciences and real politics overrates the responsibility
for the elimination of social inequalities and the fulfillment of human rights on the part of indi-
vidual states in relation to their political citizens and within their territory, while it sidelines the
responsibility on the part of transnational corporations and other non-state actors. Social conflicts
are misinterpreted as conflicts within nation states, with the transnational causes and contexts of
these conflicts being overshadowed. Although the definition of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights is universal, for migrants access to human rights is in practice significantly limited.
With respect to responsibility for implementation of migrants’ rights, Branka Likić-Brborić and
Carl-Ulrik Schierup who analyze the accountability in the emerging global governance of migra-
tion conclude that,
powerful actors, like TNCs, national, state, and regional governance bodies have mostly pursued fair trade
initiatives, while being less enthusiastic about promoting DWA [Decent Work Agenda] through sanction-
based regulatory frameworks that promote migrant workers’ rights and assure the realization of human and
Uhde 9
labour rights. Many governments support the agenda formally. Yet, we have maintained, the responsibility
for implementation has shifted away from governments towards an open social dialogue and rests on
broader civil society mobilization. (Likić-Brborić and Schierup, 2015: 240)
It shows that transnational corporations are able to incorporate moral responsibility supported by
liberal cosmopolitan political theories but are resistant to adopt a more demanding political respon-
sibility which requires a substantial restructuring of transnational economic relations. It is also
noteworthy that while Western countries support the removal of border barriers to global trade,12
they apply restrictive measures towards migrants. The International Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which entered into force in
2003, has not yet been signed by a single Western country.13 People who migrate for economic and
social reasons have brought these contradictions to light; while the global poor and the victims of
war conflicts die in remote corners of the world, migrants – with their act of migration – express
their critique of the current global arrangement and claims for recognition and respect for their
human rights. The migrants’ lived critique challenges the legitimacy of the current internationally
defined institutional and legal framework, in which they are not able to access their rights. Hence
from their lived critique derive normative claims for a cosmopolitan arrangement that would
restrict the transnational capitalist class. Although migrants’ everyday social struggles are seem-
ingly individual, if we understand migrants as a structural group, one can address the collective
feature of these struggles and their generalizable claims for global justice. Thus far I have pre-
sented a critical analysis of the structural sources of transnational migration while highlighting the
overlooked lived critique of migrants. I now turn my attention to normative implications arising
from this critical diagnosis. By pointing out what measures are already acknowledged, for exam-
ple, in relation to gender equity by the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women) Commission, I support my argument for possible and legitimate
action also with regard to responding to causes of transnational migration.
The transition from an international legal framework to its inclusion into a future cosmopolitan
arrangement represents extraterritorial obligations, which are already partly institutionally embed-
ded in the current international legal order (Hrubec, 2013). In recent years, increasingly more
attention has been paid to transnational responsibility for justice, and emphasis has been placed on
extraterritorial obligations of both state and non-state actors. These obligations were laid out in the
Maastricht Principles of Extraterritorial Obligations in the Field of Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights published by the Extraterritorial Obligations Consortium in 2011. These Maastricht princi-
ples do not introduce new legal norms, they only seek to “clarify extraterritorial obligations of
States on the basis of standing international law” (ETO Consortium, 2013: 3). According to the
Consortium, nation states have obligations to protect and fulfill social and economic rights not only
on the territory of the state but also outside their territory. This obligation includes responsibility
for the activities of non-state actors (e.g. transnational corporations) in situations when these cor-
porations enjoy support of state institutions or legal norms in the country where they are registered.
Furthermore, extraterritorial obligations are not only about the commitment to avoid damaging
activities but also include the positive obligations to create an international legal environment
respecting environmental protection and human rights in bilateral and multilateral trade, invest-
ment, taxation, and to ensure remedy if rights are violated.
The fulfillment of extraterritorial obligations means that individual states have to instigate leg-
islation regulating the activity of companies registered in their territory in relation to their activities
abroad. In 2016, the CEDAW Commission issued recommendations calling for Canada to meet its
extraterritorial obligations with regard to the mining industry, Sweden with regard to arms export,
and Switzerland regarding tax havens (Adams and Judd, 2017). In 2017, the CEDAW Commission
10 Critical Sociology 00(0)
called on Norway to comply with its extraterritorial obligations and to re-evaluate its Arctic oil and
gas practices and extraction plans with regard to the environmental consequences and their nega-
tive impact on the fulfillment of human rights, in this case specifically of women as a group more
affected by the environmental destruction of the land.14
This is a significant step towards recognition of the extraterritorial obligations of states and their
accountability for the violation of human rights outside their territories caused by the activities of
transnational corporations registered in their territory when they enjoy benefits of the given state’s
legislation. The CEDAW Commission concluded that the practices of transnational corporations
supported by state policies, the tax dodging and tax evasion contribute to the violation of women’s
rights in those regions where corporations from the above countries operate, and called on them to
take responsibility for remedying the negative consequences. The Shadow Report on Switzerland,
submitted by a group of non-governmental organizations to the CEDAW Commission, states that
the financial losses in public budgets due to tax evasion contribute significantly to the underfinanc-
ing of public institutions and services on which women depend more often than men because of the
gendered responsibility for care and unpaid work. The report also states that Switzerland is respon-
sible for allowing large-scale cross-border tax evasion that strips other states of public resources,
which negatively affects fulfillment of women’s rights and their access to economic resources
(Alliance Sud et al., 2016: 1–2). This, of course, does not apply to just Switzerland. According to
the Tax Justice Network, several states offer various offshore packages. On the 2018 Financial
Secrecy Index,15 Switzerland ranks first followed by the USA, Cayman Island, Hong Kong,
Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany and Taiwan. The argument can be extrapolated in relation to
structural causes of transnational migration. The practices of transnational corporations in many
industrial fields, in particular the transnational extractive industry and arms industry, as well as tax
dodging and tax evasion enabled by offshore practices and tax havens, contribute significantly to
social and economic deterioration in countries from which many transnational migrants come.
Countries where these TNCs are registered have extraterritorial obligations to adopt policies which
prevent these activities and remedy their negative consequences.
Differentiated Responsibility for Global Justice
Fulfillment of extraterritorial obligations, especially of wealthy states, is the first step to address
the structural causes of transnational migration, which nonetheless still operates within the national
framework delineating responsibility for global justice. At the same time, it heralds a more ambi-
tious step than the liberal cosmopolitan theory proposals that merely require a redistribution of
unequally shared wealth without changing the structures of global capitalism (e.g. Pogge’s [2002]
proposal for global resources dividend). If there is a strong pressure on individual states to fulfill
their extraterritorial obligations with respect to the consequences of the activities of transnational
corporations registered in their territory, the state parties would be more inclined to adopt cosmo-
politan legally binding rules that would regulate the activities of transnational corporations with
respect to human rights. Today, the majority of Western countries under the political and economic
influence from TNCs are resistant to implement such measures. The pressure can initiate the
change of the current global economy, not just a retroactive compensation of its unfair elements.16
However, nation states cannot be the only actors to be held accountable for global justice and the
fulfillment of human rights. Many non-state actors co-shape the current global arrangement, set-
ting into motion causal chains from which follow their differentiated responsibility for global jus-
tice. This responsibility is not only moral depending on a benevolence of more powerful actors. It
is a sociopolitical responsibility which is based on causal links, albeit complex and indirect, and
which requires systemic material remedies.
Uhde 11
Iris Young (2006, 2011) uses her concept of structural injustice to analyze global injustices.
Transnational and global economic structures and the institutions of trade, production and financial
flows establish the grounds for global justice obligations and the need for political institutions that
would regulate them at a level higher than that of the nation states. As Young puts it, global injus-
tice is not a result of direct and deliberate consequences of the activities of individuals or specific
government or non-state actors, global injustice is a consequence of structural social processes that
connect institutions and people across borders. She further argues that this nature of global injus-
tices establishes grounds for political responsibility for remedying the unjust consequences of
global capitalism:
Political responsibility in relation to structural injustice, then, certainly should involve making demands on
state and international institutions to develop policies that limit the ability of powerful and privileged
actors to do what they want without much regard to its cumulative effects on others, and to promote the
well-being of less powerful and privileged actors. (Young, 2011: 151)
Drawing from these arguments, Young proposes a social connection model of responsibility, which
is based on the structural interconnection of social relations, actions and their unintended conse-
quences (Young, 2006, 2011: esp. Chapters 4 and 5). Such global responsibility is, in her view, not
isolating – it allows us to point to the sources of global structural injustice and to define the associ-
ated responsibilities without necessarily assuming that there is a specific causal agent or culprit
behind them whose identification strips others of their responsibility. Global responsibility criti-
cally assesses the conditions which can be seen as correct in the given legal environment; it does
not necessary presuppose the violation of an accepted norm or rules. Furthermore, it is future-ori-
ented – focused on remedying the institutions and processes producing unjust consequences, and
its fulfillment requires collective action. Last but not least, it is shared and contextually distributed
(in contrast to collective responsibility) according to the position within power relations and mate-
rial and social conditions. Specifically, Young highlights four parameters of this contextual distri-
bution of responsibility: power, privilege, interest, and collective ability to implement a change.
Her model of responsibility for global justice applies the perspective of methodological cosmo-
politanism, even if she herself does not use this term; she ascribes differentiated responsibility at
distinct levels to respective actors, both state and non-state ones (transnational corporations, trans-
national organizations, etc.), but also in a differentiated way to individuals as consumers and citi-
zens. Institutionalized extraterritorial obligation mechanisms provide citizens of democratic states
with a formal instrument through which they can demand that their political representation comply
with the obligations of global justice. But also the political community of citizens is differentiated
according to power, privilege and ability to enforce a political change. Not everyone bears the same
degree of responsibility. Although, she also argues that victims of structural injustice are neither
exempted from their share of political responsibility which distinguishes this kind of responsibility
from the liability model. Because they have interest in structural transformation, they also have
responsibility to act together towards this change (Young, 2006: 123, 128). At the same time, one
must keep in mind that most citizens in richer countries enjoy, in a differentiated way, material
benefits arising from the unfair set-up of global trade in the form of a higher consumer standard,
and are therefore not too keen on enforcing extraterritorial obligations. And even the least privi-
leged groups of citizens generally enjoy some privileges over migrants, although this seems to be
true only from a short-term perspective as it is a race to the bottom. Moreover, since transnational
corporations are not necessarily attached to just one country, there is also a need to define a cosmo-
politan framework that will set the legal constraints and outline responsibilities of influential global
economic actors. In the current international regime this must be pushed through by state parties.
12 Critical Sociology 00(0)
Nevertheless, the released Panama Papers and Paradise Papers documents on offshore practices
point to the extent to which transnational corporations influence “democratic” political representa-
tions and prevent the enforcement of mechanisms for controlling transnational corporations and
the enforcement of their responsibility for human rights violations.
Young substantiates her model of responsibility in reference to social structures. Unlike the
liberal cosmopolitan moral abstract reasoning, her argument is based on material and contextual
grounds. The former characteristics are precisely why Ariadna Estévez convincingly criticizes lib-
eral cosmopolitan theorists, namely Thomas Pogge, Charles Beitz, and Martha Nussbaum.17 Young
criticizes the workings of global capitalism by tracing indirect and unintended consequences and
cumulative effects of actions of many individual and collective actors in a historical context.
Today’s context of global capitalism incorporates the nation states into a broader framework of
transnational and supranational institutions and the institutionalized workings of global capitalism
(see Robinson, 2012, 2014), which builds on but also transforms effects of the cumulative injus-
tices of colonial history. At the same time, as Iris Young points out, in the case of global structural
injustice, one cannot always trace a specific culprit for specific harm. Although particular states are
directly or indirectly (on account of their extraterritorial obligations) responsible for some injus-
tices in the current globally interconnected world, it does not cover the roots of the current trans-
national migration – ranging from environmental changes, to global inequalities and the
consequences of unjust global geopolitical and economic arrangements, to war conflicts over
resources. When the causes of current migration are transnational and global, not exclusively inter-
national, the response to them requires the institutionalization of political and legal solutions at the
same level, from which they arise. The current efforts to address the fundamental violations of
human rights of migrants on an international level are not integrally linked to efforts to eliminate
the causes of transnational migration. This is also the case with the Global Compact for Safe,
Orderly and Regular Migration that is currently being negotiated within the UN. These efforts are
thus continuing to reproduce the main problems of the current dual approach – borderless in rela-
tion to the main economic actors and border-restricted in relation to responsibility for justice and
the fulfillment of human rights. While the detailed development of the concrete distribution and
implementation of the differentiated responsibility for global justice requires a further analysis, my
aim has been to put forward an argument which lies at the beginning of such normative analysis –
an acknowledgment that to deal with the causes of transnational migration requires moving beyond
the current nation-state centered framework for defining responsibility for global justice. Migration
justice needs to be inevitably part of a broader global justice if it is to be more than an assistance
to those already “at our borders”.
The international human rights regime formulates a relatively ambitious set of individual and col-
lective rights. The realization of those rights, however, is only limited within the current nation-
state defined framework of responsibility for global justice. Transnational migrants represent a
structural group of people who are in practice often denied access to these rights. Moreover, the
unjust political economy of global capitalism will continue to generate cross-border movements of
persons in spite of the current tendencies to tighten border controls and restrict migration. Migration
research needs to focus on structural causes of migration in order to generate solutions beyond the
mere assistance and quick fix to those already on the move. This also inherently implies the need
to connect discussions about migrants’ rights to a broader discussion of global structural injustice
and its remedies. The internal contradictions of the international human rights regime – the univer-
sal validity of human rights and the formal sovereignty of nation states with regard to their
Uhde 13
implementation – are reproduced by the dual approach – borderless for market and border-restricted
for responsibilities for justice. In order to counteract global inequalities and fulfill human rights
commitments, it is necessary to institutionalize an egalitarian, cosmopolitan order in which the
world’s wealth is shared equitably and which sets out the enforceable cross-border obligations of
non-state actors, states and individuals. Migrants, in their everyday struggles, bring into question
the legitimacy of the current internationally-established legal framework wherein they are unable
to exercise and access their guaranteed rights. Their lived critique challenges current borders of
responsibility for justice. While the fulfillment of extraterritorial obligations is the first step towards
overcoming current borders of responsibility for justice, migrants’ lived critique legitimizes a nor-
mative claim for a cosmopolitan redefinition of law that would enact differentiated responsibility
for global justice.
This work was supported by the research program Global Conflicts and Local Interactions (Strategy AV21)
and institutional support of the Czech Academy of Sciences (RVO: 68378025). Furthermore, the research was
funded by the European Structural and Investing Fund within the OP Research, Development and Education
(project No. CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/16_027/0008471).
1. Using the term migrant, I do not denote all the groups of people crossing borders. I use this term to des-
ignate a group of marginalized migrants who cross borders owing to material, social or other hardship.
This definition does not mean that all migrants are unskilled or without any resources but the point is
to clearly differentiate the groups of transnational professionals and other privileged groups who move
abroad in response to demand for their expertise and education and have access to a significantly more
flexible transnational mobility regime.
3. Although I use the established concept of a nation state here, I should point out that this term might be mis-
leading because it is not primarily about defining a political national unit where the nation is understood
as a community sharing language, culture, history, religion and territory. The primary defining feature is
the modern political institution of the state in the sense of a territorial unit now commonly referred to as
the nation state, which may be multinational. Problematic in a similar way is the concept of methodologi-
cal nationalism, which I use later in the text. This concept designates an approach that analyzes social
processes and phenomena exclusively from the perspective of the political institution of the state.
4. According to Robinson, this fourth stage of capitalist system development has been formed since the
1970s and after the collapse of the Soviet bloc; it was established as qualitatively different from the
previous world economy of integrated national capitals (Robinson, 2004).
5. While a more in-depth discussion and empirical analysis of the institutional-structural properties of capi-
talist globalization and its contradictions is certainly an area that deserves more attention, a more detailed
analysis lies beyond the scope of this article. For more see, for example, Sprague (2016); Struna (2015).
6. In the following passage I draw from my analyses in Uhde (2018).
7. World system theories of migration which situated human mobility into a global economic system as a
functional component of the transnational labor market were prominent in the 1960s and 70s. Instead
of correcting some of the limitations and economic reductionism, this stream of migration research has
been side-tracked from the mainstream migration studies.
8. For example, Ariadna Estévez (2012) who interprets migrants’ protests as a critique of global injustices,
pays attention only to collectively organized forms of struggles while overlooking this everyday critique.
9. By highlighting these prepolitical claims and lived critique of migrants I do not intend to overlook a sig-
nificant number of organized and politically articulated migrant initiatives and organizations. However,
my aim is to highlight the prepolitical critique which is for the most part overlooked. For analyses of
migrants’ political protests as cosmopolitanism from below, see Caraus and Paris (2018).
14 Critical Sociology 00(0)
10. To avoid misunderstanding, one must keep in mind the difference between methodological cosmopoli-
tanism and cosmopolitan theory. At the same time, I want to emphasize the difference between the
cosmopolitan critical social theory based on intersubjective ontology and historically contextualized
and material analyses, and the liberal cosmopolitan theory based on overly individualistic ontology
and ahistorical political abstractions and normative proposals. Many authors convincingly criticize lib-
eral cosmopolitan theories – for example, with regard to global justice and migrants’ human rights, see
Estévez (2012). In contrast to this, the cosmopolitan critical social theory that I draw from, formulates
normative arguments based on the analyses of the really-existing processes of cosmopolitization and the
social actors’ claims. Critical, descriptive and normative aspects are not separated from each other, but
rather integrated into a coherent conceptual approach (for the methodology of critical theory, see Hrubec,
11. Migration as a legitimate human mobility is the subject of the so-called “open border debate”, which is
mainly conducted in the field of ideal political theory. Amy Reed-Sandoval (2016) gives an inspiring
outline of another possible take on the debate on open borders in the field of non-ideal theory.
12. For example, in 2017, the CETA Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada was signed, which
also provides transnational corporations with a tool for claiming compensation for lost profits due to
adopted public regulations.
13. This convention contains rather a conservative definition of migrant rights and still does not grant the
same rights to groups of undocumented migrants, so-called irregular migrants. The list of countries that
have signed the Convention is available from:
15. The Financial Secrecy Index is available at:
-2018-results. The release of the leaked documents and information in the so-called Panama Papers affair
in 2016 and the Paradise Papers affair at the end of 2017 indicates the extent of the problems of tax eva-
sion and tax optimization that are formally legal. Obviously, it is not enough to compile a blacklist of tax
havens outside the EU, considering the EU’s attempts to cope with the problem so far.
16. For example, an open-ended inter-governmental working group by the UN Human Rights Council with
a mandate to elaborate an international legally binding treaty on transnational corporations and other
business enterprises with respect to human rights was established in 2015 despite the negative votes of
all the members of the council from the EU plus USA. This is already a third attempt within the UN
(first in 1990, second in 2004) to define enforceable and direct transnational obligations of corporations.
17. In the scope of one article it is not possible to fully cover the debate between cosmopolitan and national/
international conceptions of justice nor develop in detail a critique of liberal cosmopolitan theories. For
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How can we appraise and best describe the re-emergence of large-scale emigration from Greece in hindsight, more than ten years since the eruption of the Greek crisis? Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data collected in the context of the EUMIGRE project in the Netherlands and Greater London, this chapter provides an in-depth assessment of Greece’s emigration during the period of the country’s prolonged economic crisis from the perspective of the key actors, the migrants themselves. Focusing on their migration motivations, it explores how the crisis in Greece has altered everyday discourse on emigration and loosened up social constraints towards long distance mobility. It further highlights the significance of the freedom of movement within the EU in shaping the characteristics of the outflow and the experiences and aspirations of the migrants. Three different migrant profiles are singled out, the necessity driven migrants, the career-oriented migrants and the middling transnationals. Moving away from statist and economistic presentations of the phenomenon, the chapter aims to challenge several conventional assumptions underlying the way this outmigration is commonly presented in the Greek public discourse and critically assess the main labels used to describe it namely, brain drain, new migration and crisis-driven migration.
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During the recent ‘refugee crisis’ Greece became one of the major entry points by sea as high numbers of refugees and asylum seekers, primarily originating from Syria, entered its territory en route to wealthier European countries. The unprecedented arrival of refugees has triggered mixed reactions towards newcomers raising socio-economic and cultural concerns about the potential impacts of refugees on the host country. The chapter uses survey data from the EU-funded TransSOL project and incorporates realistic group conflict and social identity theories to explore potential determinants shaping different attitudes towards Syrian refugees entering Greece. The descriptive analysis indicated that opposition attitudes towards Syrian refugees are widespread in Greece. Results from a multinomial logistic regression analysis demonstrated that individual determinants related to social identity theory are particularly important in understanding different levels of Greeks’ opposition towards Syrian refugees, whereas strong opposition towards the specific ethnic group was associated with an amalgamation of individual factors related to both realistic group conflict and social identity theory. The findings stress the necessity of implementing policy interventions that promote the intercultural dialogue and aim to mitigate the main sources of negative stances towards refugees.
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This chapter reports on a qualitative study investigating a particular type of Greek-language education abroad, namely non-mixed or Greek state schools in Germany, and the impact ‘new’ migration has had on their operation. These schools (K-12) follow the Greek curricula and employ teachers seconded from the Greek Ministry of Education. They were originally set up in the 1970s as an educational setting which would help immigrant students in Germany to develop Greek language skills and a Greek ethnocultural identity, eventually facilitating transition in the case of repatriation. Their graduates have the additional benefit of gaining access to Greek universities with relatively low grades, and, as a result, such schools have been a popular option for Greek immigrant families for the last forty years. Following the decision of Greek authorities to start abolishing them in 2011, Greek non-mixed schools saw their students’ numbers wane. ‘New’ migration to Germany (post 2010), however, has led to an important rise in enrolments and a change in the student population profile. According to the findings of a small-scale exploratory study presented in this chapter, teachers in these schools perceive new arrivals as young people traumatised by the migration experience and in need of a familiar physical and symbolic setting. As a result, non-mixed schools are once again considered as important institutions in the current circumstances on the grounds that they offer their students a number of advantages.
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This paper attempts to rethink and globalize the concept of the capitalist class, to suggest ways in which this class uses social movements, and to explore what might come after capitalist globalization and the hegemony of the transnational capitalist class (TCC). The first section of the paper provides evidence that there is now a flourishing community of scholars largely but not exclusively connected with the Network for Critical Studies of Global Capitalism (NCSGC), who are building a substantial foundation for research on the transnational capitalist class all over the world. The next section poses questions around the hegemony of the TCC and highlights the importance of what is conceptualized as social movements for global capitalism. Relatively little attention is paid to this compared to the vast literature on social movements against global capitalism. The paper concludes with the question: Is there a non-capitalist alternative to globalization dominated by the TCC? The answer begins with ...
The chapter develops an approach to the articulation of migrants’ claims and, in particular, gendered claims for global justice. This approach embeds the cosmopolitan critical theory of global justice in people’s everyday critique of structural injustice. The author builds on critical theory, especially that advanced by Axel Honneth, Marek Hrubec, Iris M. Young and Ulrich Beck, and on the critical analysis of global capitalism presented by William Robinson and Leslie Sklair to articulate migrants’ struggles for recognition and to situate transnational migration practices in the context of global interactions from which these practices arise. The author argues that by limiting our understanding of the transnational subject of justice claims to only organized political collectivities, one overlooks a significant component of social protest. She elaborates a concept of lived critique and challenges the understanding of the agents of global justice claims as individuals or transnational organized collectivities. She argues that although migrants’ lived critique does not take the form of traditional political protest, understanding marginalized migrants as a structural group allows cosmopolitan critical theory to identify more seriously based and more ambitious claims for global justice. The author suggests that the migrants’ lived critique contests the legitimacy of global capitalism and of the nation-state-defined institutional and legal framework. Finally, she highlights the lived critique of marginalized groups of migrant women and articulates gendered claims for the social recognition of care and transnational social reproduction as a matter of global justice.
Migration and cosmopolitanism are said to be complementary. Cosmopolitanism means to be a citizen of the world, and migration, without impediments, should be the natural starting point for a cosmopolitan view. However, the intensification of migration, through an increasing number of refugees and economic migrants, has generated anti-cosmopolitan stances. Using the concept of cosmopolitanism as it emerges from migrant protests like Sans Papiers, No One Is Illegal, and No Borders, an interdisciplinary group of scholars addresses this discrepancy and explores how migrant protest movements elicit a new form of radical cosmopolitanism. The combination of basic theoretical concepts and detailed empirical analysis in this book will advance the theoretical debate on the inherent cosmopolitan aspects of migrant activism. As such, it will be a valuable contribution to students, researchers and scholars of political science, sociology and philosophy.
This book proposes a cosmopolitan ethics that calls for analyzing how economic and political structures limit opportunities for different groups, distinguished by gender, race, and class. The author explores the implications of criticisms from the social sciences of Eurocentrism and of methodological nationalism for normative theories of mobility. These criticisms lend support to a cosmopolitan social science that rejects a principled distinction between international mobility and mobility within states and cities. This work has interdisciplinary appeal, integrating the social sciences, political philosophy, and political theory. Alexander Sager is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University, USA.
This book uses human rights as part of a constructivist methodology designed to establish a causal relationship between human rights violations and different types of social and political conflict in Europe and North America.
The global capitalism perspective is a unique research program focused on understanding relatively recent developments in worldwide social, economic, and political practices related to globalization. At its core, it seeks to contextualize the rearticulation of nation-states and broad geographic regions into highly interdependent networks of production and distribution, and in so doing explain consequent changes in social relations within and between countries in the contemporary era. The present volume contributes to this effort by focusing on social class formation across borders via the processes and actors that make globalized capitalism possible. The essays presented here offer a wide range of emphases in terms of the particular lenses and evidence they use. They cover such topics as the emergence of a transnational capitalist class-based fascist regime responding to the structural crises of global capitalism as well as the links between global class formation and the US racial project as it relates to electoral politics and demographic changes in the US South. This book was published as a special issue of Globalizations.
This chapter discusses the politics of multiculturalism as a kind of identity politics. It argues the concept of structural difference, as distinct from cultural group. Analysing structural difference and structural inequality, then, helps to show why these movements are not properly interpreted as identity politics. The chapter defines social structure, and more specifically structural inequality, by rebuilding elements from different accounts. Norms of inclusive communicative democracy require that claims directed at a public with the aim of persuading members of that public that injustices occur must be given a hearing, and require criticism of those who refuse to listen. Common good theorists no doubt fear that attending to group differences in public discussion endangers commitment to co-operative decision-making. Only explicit and differentiated forms of inclusion can diminish the occurrence of such refusals, especially when members of some groups are more privileged in some or many respects.