The key problematique of this chapter is to understand how migration and the integration of migrants unfold through time, across generations and as gendered processes. This is an extremely broad canvas on which to try to paint a picture of the temporal and socio-demographic dimensions of the processes of immigration and settlement in Europe.
Our first task is to stress the practical and theoretical importance of time in the study of migration. This is dealt with in section 1, where we deal in concepts and generalities. As a stimulus to think through the time factor in migration we briefly present two theoretical perspectives on ‘time’: the one of Hägerstrand and that of Cwerner. In section 2, we move to a more methodological analysis, and set out a series of possible strategies for comparatively studying the role of time in migration. Parts 3 and 4 review two specific epistemologies for studying migration through time: The life-course approach and longitudinal studies of international migrants. These four sections, then, represent our attempt to introduce, theorise and operationalise the critical dimension of time into the study of international migration and integration in Europe. The succeeding three parts of the chapter switch the focus away from time as a continuous and longitudinal variable, towards a range of cross-sectional and cross-cutting axes of analysis: gender, the family and generations. Each of these is time-dependent or incorporates the temporal factor in some fashion, but time as such is not the defining variable. Section 8 concludes by pointing up key findings and indicating some priorities for research.
Highlighting the role of time in the study of international migration
Conventionally conceptualised as a time-space phenomenon, the temporal dimension is often central in definitions of migration, for instance as a relocation to another place for a significant period of time, or as a permanent or semi-permanent shift of residence, either within or to another country. Moreover, there are often implicit thresholds of time and distance contained within definitions of migration, in order to differentiate migration from other, shorter-term and shorter-distance forms of mobility. Thus, migration may be defined as a semi-permanent, long-distance change of the place of residence; whereas a shortdistance move is regarded as residential relocation, and short-term moves such as tourism or business trips are regarded as temporary mobility (Malmberg 1997: 23).