Sociological perspectives of international migration from Malawi to South Africa

Sociology and migration

Academic Paper, 2018

13 Pages












The study of migration is of concern to sociology. Sociological understanding of migration trends can help uncover insights that may not be uncovered by other humanities discipline concerned with issues of migration. This paper tries to apply sociological perspective into issues of migration in a way to establish a unique sociological understanding and analytical paths regarding issues of migration. The paper focusses on building an understanding on how sociological analysis can be used to study migration and build a unique understanding of the area. It contends that sociology has a unique way of understanding which can be very useful in studying migration discourse.


Migration is the movement of people from one place to another. Migration can occur between and within countries. The paper however will focus on international or cross-border migration between Malawi and South Africa. Apart from the widely held notion that most of the migration in southern Africa are driven by economic conditions both in sending (poor economic conditions) country and receiving (better economic conditions), there are other reasons that likewise contribute to international migration. Such causes of migration, for instance, migration as an instrument of rites of passage, as a way of proving one’s manhood and so on, can be explained from different disciplinary perspectives. Unlike the demographers, sociology is not mainly concerned with the physical crossing of the border. Sociologists are rather concerned with investigating “processes that go beyond this aspect, such as changes in global and local orders of inequality that structure migration, the social construction of boundaries of belonging, and political conflicts linked to different forms of human mobility” (Amelina & Horvan, 2017). Sociology concentrates on the migration related social practices in migration sending as well as receiving communities. As a unique scientific field of study, sociology follows the scientific standards in its research conduct. It also considers historical trends that shape the current social outlook in understanding the social status quo. Sociological study of migration tends to be diverse concentration on such issues like kinship ties and how they influence development as well as social and cultural networks and how they affect migration and vice versa. Employers have often used kinship ties in recruiting labour from one area or country to another (Grieco & Hosking, 1987). Hence, unlike sociological literature on migration and kinship ties that imply separation of kin through migration, there is growing evidence that migration does not necessarily entail separation of as they are still in touch through other ways of bonding like remittances. Growing evidence is also pointing to the realisation that kinship ties have an impact on job-searching behaviour where success of one kin creates a chain of opportunities for the others kin in the network (Menjivar, 1995).

This paper tries to explain international migration from Malawi to South Africa from the sociological perspective. It aims to show the extent to which the concept of international migration is a sociological concern. The paper will do this by explaining nature of migration from the perspectives of both the sending country (Malawi) as well as the receiving country (South Africa). The paper will also endeavour to apply a number of sociological theories such as structural functionalism, social conflict as well as symbolic interactionism in understanding the international migration discourse. The paper will start by looking at the purpose before tackling the scope of the research. It will then try to connect sociology and migration before looking at how sociological thinking can be applied to analyse migration issues. The paper will then try to synthesise the discussion before drawing conclusions.


Sociology is closely related and heavily borrows from such disciplines like psychology, anthropology, economics and other humanities. However, sociology is a unique field with its own way of analysing and understanding social phenomena. The aim of this paper is to try and established sociological understanding of migration that shows that it is possible to analyse issues of migration more specifically international migration with a sociological perspective. The paper will try to achieve this by focusing on international migration from Malawi to South Africa.


The study will focus on international migration from Malawi to South Africa. It will not tackle issues of internal migration in Malawi. The paper will utilise secondary data from published sources and will be qualitative in nature. It will use selected ideas from some prominent sociologists to try and explain the sociological nature of international migration.


This section tries to look at some aspects of migration that are of concern to sociology. The section tries to provide some of the insights a migration researcher should consider to help understand and guide in the analysis of data during the research and interactions in the field.


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Sociological perspectives of international migration from Malawi to South Africa
Sociology and migration
University of Botswana
MPhil Sociology
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
sociological, malawi, south, africa, sociology, southern africa, migration, international migration, south south migration
Quote paper
Felix Chilumpha (Author), 2018, Sociological perspectives of international migration from Malawi to South Africa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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