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Navigating between Structure and Agency: Moroccan Independent Youth Migration

Dumann, Nadja (2021) Navigating between Structure and Agency: Moroccan Independent Youth Migration. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.88484) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:88484)

Language: English

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Recent International Migration Scholarship is slowly moving away from the tendency to predominantly focus on adult migration. Awareness has widened that young migrants engage in migration for similar reasons as adult migrants, and one of these reasons can be economic. Over the past 2 decades, an increasing number of unaccompanied minors have migrated on dangerous routes to the Western world for reasons that can often not be clearly categorised under current legal and policy definitions. Whereas International Development Scholarship is well aware of children and adolescents migrating South-South for reasons other than war, persecution, and child trafficking, economic youth migration was rarely acknowledged with South-North migration. Moroccan children and adolescents, usually males between 14 and 16 years of age, but sometimes much younger, were among the first to have engaged in independent migration to Europe since the early 2000s. They first arrived in Spain (and some in Italy), and became quickly known for moving onward north, until they were sighted about a decade and a half later for the first time in Sweden. Regardless of which European country they migrated to, authorities were in general stupefied by the independent and mature manner in which they absconded from or avoided reception structures altogether and not seldom became associated with delinquencies. Through the lens of a Theory of Practice combined with World Systems Analysis, supported by ethnographic fieldwork, the present research investigates the reasons why young Moroccans engage in independent youth migration, how they put their migration into practice and their reasons for onward migration within Europe. It looks at the structural constraints and opportunities the young migrants face in Morocco, in terms of a particular emigration culture that has been shaped historically, and present-day conditions in Morocco which influence the decision why some of their youth leave the country under the most dangerous conditions of contemporary migration. Moroccan children and adolescents migrate with a utopic migration goal imagining that they will better their lives and that of their families by migrating to Europe and become providers, regardless their age. Yet, the young migrants are confronted with enabling and constraining structures also once they arrive in Europe, which are predominantly of legal and policy origin. Unaccompanied minors are defined as children and victims due to a particular social construction of childhood, and within the context of the Refugee Convention. Young Moroccans are in general unable and unwilling to fit this particular profile, but due to the fact that they are children, they are tolerated to stay in Europe until the age of 18. These structures are incorporated into their migration project while they organize themselves in groups, or Communities of Practice, that are crucial for their survival and information sharing. These groups are however not always beneficial. Psychological instability, disappointment and inability to understand the controversies of Western society, can lead to a desocialising spiral where they are increasingly marginalised. Moroccan independent youth migrants are navigating between structure and agency, shaping their migration from Morocco to Europe and within Europe, making them vulnerable in ways beyond legal and policy definitions they fall under as unaccompanied minors.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Klekowski von Koppenfels, Amanda
Thesis advisor: Savic, Bojan
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.88484
Uncontrolled keywords: Youth Migration Unaccompanied Minors Morocco EU policy Spain Sweden Belgium World Systems Analysis Communities of Practice Structure Agency Irregular Migration Theory of Practice
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2021 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2024 12:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Dumann, Nadja.

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