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Transnational Senegalese Migration, Integration and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Migrant Organisations in Four European Receiving Context

What are the roles played by migrant organisations in the context of transnational Senegalese migration, integration and development?

Project Summary

The transnational turn in migration studies leads to consider migrant organisations not only as actors of integration in the receiving country, but also as privileged actors of development of their country of origin. Surprisingly, despite the importance attributed to migrant organisations, research on these actors is not extensive in the literature.

In an attempt to better understand the relationship between integration and transnationalism, their multilayered role(s) were examined with particular focus on their embedment in both governmental and non-governmental networks. The planned study integrated sociology, social psychology, anthropology and economy, and focused on Senegalese migrant organisations in four receiving contexts (Geneva, Milan, Paris and Barcelona). The results highlighted the impact of contextual migration, integration, and development policies on these organisations’ dynamics.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Senegalese Transnational Migration: Integration and Development

We are currently witnessing a growing recognition of the central role played by diaspora associations, both in terms of integration in the host country and in the development of the country of origin. These associative actors contribute through their activities to linking reception and origin areas, and tend to be present both here and there, according to a transnational dynamic. However, despite this observation, the various host countries are characterized by varying degrees of effective recognition of this dual role in their national and local policies on integration and migration/development. In this context, this research aimed to examine, through a comparative approach between three European host countries, Italy, France and Switzerland – and more specifically at the level of the urban contexts of Milan, Paris and Geneva – the impact of specific integration and migration/development policies on the associative dynamics of a diaspora particularly characterized by transnationalism, namely the Senegalese diaspora. The study, carried out according to a multi-methodological approach integrating qualitative, quantitative and audiovisual methods, also focused on analyzing the links established between integration and transnationalism both in terms of public policies and the associative activities of the Senegalese diaspora.

Executive Summary

This research aimed to contribute, through a comparative approach between countries, to the academic and political debates concerned by these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective that integrates concepts and methods from disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, social psychology, political and economic sciences. The study focused specifically on the dynamics of Senegalese diaspora associations in three European host countries, Italy, France and Switzerland, and more specifically in three urban contexts, namely Milan, Paris and Geneva. These three cities are characterized by a highly multicultural demographic composition, described by some authors as “super-diversity” (Vertovec, 2008; Faist, 2009). They have developed local policies and specific practices regarding integration and the migration/development nexus, and have different attitudes towards migrant and diaspora associations, in terms of recognition of their role, financial and technical support and involvement in the policy development and implementation process.


Understanding transnational political involvement among Senegalese migrants: The role of acculturation preferences and perceived discrimination

In political debates, migrants’ political involvement in their countries of origin and successful adaptation to receiving countries are often portrayed as incompatible. We address this concern by examining the links between acculturation preferences, perceived discrimination, and migrants’ transnational political involvement in their country of origin. In line with collective action research, a cross-sectional questionnaire study (N = 84) among Senegalese migrants in Paris (France) and Geneva (Switzerland) examined three pathways to transnational political involvement (motivations and actual behaviour). Perceived discrimination, the grievances pathway, was positively related to both transnational motivations (but only when desire to adopt the receiving culture was low) and political behaviour in Senegal. Desire to adopt the culture of the receiving society as an acculturation preference, the embeddedness pathway, was also positively linked to transnational motivations and political behaviour. Finally, desire to maintain the culture of origin as an acculturation preference—the collective identification pathway—was unrelated to transnational political involvement. These findings underscore the compatibility of transnational political involvement in countries of origin and adaptation to receiving societies. We discuss the pivotal role of political psychology in bringing together acculturation psychology and transnationalism studies.

Au diapason de la disaspora

The Senegalese diaspora has a mission: building bridges between here and there. It keeps its roots in the country of origin while investing in the host country. Senegalese associations are the expression of this dual presence. As protagonists of both integration and development, they illustrate, whether in Paris, Geneva or Milan, the strengths and challenges of contemporary transnational migration.

Research Team

Sandro Cattacin
University of Geneva

Milena Chimienti
Principal Member
University of London

Paul de Guchteneire
Principal Member

Eva G. T. Green
Principal Member
University of Lausanne

Jenny Maggi
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Antoine Pécoud
Principal Member

Dame Sarr
Principal Member
University of Geneva

Oriane Sarrasin
Principal Member
University of Lausanne

Andrea Stocchiero
Principal Member
Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale

Novita Amadei
Associated Member
International Organisation for Migration






Host Institution