The link between development and migration has been termed the 'new development mantra'. Studies on the subject have so far mostly focused on economic remittances, and the potential consequences of return migration on democratisation have been rarely touched upon. This article attests the potential of the migration experience to affect migrants' attitudes towards democracy, thus playing an important role in the diffuse support needed for democracies in the stage of consolidation. Based on a survey among 1,000 Philippine return migrants from six destinations, the paper suggests that the migration experience may not only lead to a more critical stance towards the political system of the home country; there are also indicators of lesser support for the principles of democracy when compared to migrants about to leave the country for the first time. The political system of the destination as such seems to be a less decisive factor than the specific freedoms and restrictions experienced by migrants and a potential bias when selecting the destination. The article focuses on return migrants from Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan, which showed the most distinctive numbers in support of democracy or changes therein when compared to first-time migrants heading for that destination.
The article provides an introduction into this EJEAS issue on democratisation and international migration. Third Wave democratisation and the recent unprecedented increase in international labour migration may have the same structural origins, but so far few attempts have been made to link the two research agendas. One explanation might be that existing research on democratisation has neglected the exogenous dimension, and that migration research was preoccupied with destination countries. By drawing from the contributions to this Issue and the literature on norm diffusion, we argue that migrants have the potential to act as norm entrepreneurs and as agents of democratisation. The article maps out three avenues of norm diffusion: Migration can be the cause for changes of political attitudes at the individual level, it can be an enabling factor for collective action and it may lead to institutional change at the national and global level. To further assess how precisely these pathways might support or impede democratisation, more theory-guided empirical studies on the subject are urgently needed.
This two-part Special Issue has examined the migration–sovereignty nexus in the context of intra-regional migration in Asia, with specific focus on Southeast Asia (‘Special Issue’). The sub-region represents the perfect laboratory for teasing out the complexities involved in (actual and rhetorical) attempts made by states to control and regulate migration in what has become a space characterised by increasing diversity of (collective and individual) actors operating at various levels. The diversity, complexity and breadth of migratory movements discussed in this Special Issue thus constitute one of the policy fields where the sovereignty norm clashes with the need to manage interdependence. The seven empirical studies in this Special Issue have examined current political, economic, social and legal dimensions of migration in Southeast Asia from an interdisciplinary perspective, linking the discussion of the migration–sovereignty nexus to ‘regional migration regimes’, ‘the transnational–national intersection’ and ‘grass-roots responses’. The common message that emerges from the papers in this issue—that state sovereignty in the area of migration is being challenged from multiple levels—leads us to argue for a future research agenda which would align the study of sovereignty more closely with governance studies as well as studies on norm diffusion. Such an agenda would contribute new insights into emerging forms of sovereignty beyond the confines of the state.