Transnationalism as a New Model of Integration: Comparative Analysis of the Migrants’ Everyday Life in Russia

The overall goal of the Project is to find out basic mechanisms that determine processes of social integration in the new paradigm of studying migration processes which has entered into the social sciences scholarship in the 1990s and has been called “transnationalism”. In the center of research attention will be transnational structures of everyday life of migrants in the accepted societies as basis for the new policies of social integration in the system of coordinates not only of economic, political borders but also cultural borders of everyday life worlds.
‘Transnationalism’ entered the migration studies lexicon in the early 1990s, over a century after earlier generations of migration researchers had introduced and made extensive use of the concept of assimilation.
Glick Schiller ct al. (l 994) offered a rationale for a new analytic framework, making .a case for the introduction of two new terms: “transnationalism” and “transmigrants.” The former refers to “the process by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of 0rigin and their country of settlement,” while the latter refers to the “inunigrants who build such social fields”
The Project promotes transnational migration research based on the belief that the potentials of comparative sociology will advance the theoretical development of migration research. Elsewhere we’ve proposed our understanding of comparative sociology – neither as a method, nor a subfield, but as a special organization of research through constant comparisons at the different levels of social reality. This research process is realized through a series of studies that could be descriptive or explanatory, theoretical or empirical, comparative case studies, small-N or large-N comparisons.
Our understanding is based on the three characteristics which, we suggest, are fundamental for comparative sociology. First, comparative sociology is an ideal type of sociology. Sociology is potentially comparative per se. Second, comparative sociology has to be viewed as a research process. “Research-questions-centered” perspective presupposes that an answer to the original research question in fact is nothing but the start for a new set of research questions. Third, comparative sociology presents a critique of all reified and somehow frozen elements in sociological tradition.