To discuss if migration is more about perception than reality firstly we must realise what migration is and define it clearly, in order to help decide if it is indeed more about perception than the reality.
The textbook definition of migration is the permanent change of address and the complete change of community ties of a person, not including commuting. This means that there are many factors to do with migration such as push and pull factors, and scope for it to be on an international scale not just within a single country on a national scale.
I also think that ideas from geographical theorists such as Everett Lee and Ravenstein should be kept in mind while considering if migration is more about perception than reality.
To come to a reasonable conclusion about migration being affected by reality and perception I will discuss the following points; countries economical status e.g. LEDC’s vs. MEDC’s, Bradford as an example of perception and migration in UK, and finally the changing nature of migration.
In LEDC countries such as those on the continents of South Africa and Asia, where life is had and living standards are generally poor for much of their populations’ migration is a common stage that many people in LEDC populations are undertaking.
The most popular perception in LEDC countries where much of the populations commonly live in rural areas is that there is no work where they are, they are suffering often with none of the most basic services that people require such as running water and electricity, while the more built up areas such as cities have great advantages as they have a large amount of work available to people, they have all of the necessary services such as basic sanitation and more. Therefore many people will try and migrate from rural areas to urban areas in LEDC’s and this is mainly due to their perception, the reality is that urban areas do have jobs available and the necessary basic services leading to a better quality of life but they also have their own problems where the poor migrants have to live in slums often which have conditions not very much better than where they came from.
In MEDC countries such as those found in Europe, Oceania & North America migration is quite different, perception and reality have different roles the average family in a MEDC could migrate somewhere for a wide number of different reasons, financial gain is often a main reason however not as much as it would be in a LEDC, peoples perception of places in MEDC’s is changed because they have easy access to informational resources and often they can reach those places far easier and generally know more about them before migrating there unlike the person in an LEDC who may blindly migrate to a city in order to get a better quality of life. So this is where reality plays a bigger part as in MEDC’s people can see the reality of the place they may migrate to far more easily than those in LEDC countries.
Therefore when discussing if migration is more about reality than perception we need to take into account the location of where the migration is taking place, as the countries economical status will play a large part in affecting peoples perception of places.
There are examples in Britain a MEDC that show perception and reality affect migration, and that often people are ignorant to things and perception plays a large part in migration, often more so than reality.
An example of migration in UK would be in the mid nineteenth century, with the growth in wool trade in Yorkshire. In Bradford Pakistani’s began to arrive looking for work in the textiles industry. Most of the immigrants were people from rural parts of the Pakistani corner of Kashmir. Many brought along brides from their country of origin and as much as sixty percent of the immigrants were marriages from women not from England. This of course meant that many of them spoke very little English and their children were at a linguistic disadvantage causing educational problems and also problems where they often went ‘home’ for long lengths of time due to the large cultural and religion differences, causing their children to be far more likely to fail at school than any other child.
This is evidence that perception of people in LEDC’s is that it is better in England so migrate there, however the reality is quite different. This leads to considering Everett Lee’s theory that migrants are free to travel, they have skills and education or qualifications that allow them to move, barriers to migration are minimal i.e. race, class and gender and finally distance is not a big factor in migration. Therefore in LEDC’s as I found before perception appears to play a bigger part in migration than reality plays.
Migration as I have found earlier is caused by a number of factors and perception and reality do play a large part in migration, but what happens when this is changed, and migrants become refugees.
Well refugees tend to be migrating due to persecution or fear of it, this is often due to political causes, and will make the migrants move on an international scale. However whilst thinking about migration being affected by perception and reality the case of the kosovan refugees in 1999 caused by a war between Serbia and Kosovo leading to Serbians invading Kosovo and forcibly removing ethnic Kosovars. This lead to a large influx of migrants into central Europe, and a perception of many Kosovan refugees that they wanted to come specifically to England because they would find work there and it was a good country that would let them do so, unlike so many others who would not.
Their perception played a massive part in their migration and so they headed directly for England and try to get into England however many became stuck at various refugee camps in France when trying to get into England, and it Is only the fact that they perceive England to be so desirable that some still remain in those refugee camps today waiting for entry into England, as they cannot yet know the reality of where they are migrating to.
Therefore I conclude that when talking about perceiving and migration, ‘perceiving’ means what the migrant imagines exists, rather than what actually exists in the country or place they are trying to go to. The reality and imagined factors may be quite similar, but at the same time can also be very different if not completely different.
Another thing I have found is that peoples perception will vary depending on their location, LEDC’s generally will have less communication and so people will rely more on perception of places than knowing the reality, whilst people in MEDC’s are fortunate enough to have more resources available to them and perception is more likely to play far less of a part of their decision when migrating.
I would also like to point out that much of what I have concluded is concurrent with that of several different geographical theorists, I agree with Everett Lee’s theories of migration and also Raven stein’s theories on migration.