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New Research Project: Marriage Migration and Integration

9 August 2013

New Research Project: Marriage Migration and Integration. Funded by the ESRC

This project is funded by the ESRC. Dr Katharine Charsley is the Principal Investigator for this project leading a team of researchers. The co-investigators are Dr Sarah Spencer and Hiranth Jayaweera (COMPAS, Oxford). Dr Marta Bolognani will be the researcer for the project which will last 26 months.


Spouses constitute the largest category of migrant settlement in the UK. In Britain, as elsewhere in Europe, concern is increasingly expressed over the implications of marriage-related migration for integration. In some ethnic minority groups, significant numbers of children and grandchildren of former immigrants continue to marry partners from their ancestral homelands. Such marriages are presented as particularly problematic: a 'first generation' of spouses in every generation may inhibit processes of individual and group integration, impeding socio-economic participation and cultural change. New immigration restrictions likely to impact particularly on such groups have thus been justified on the grounds of promoting integration. The evidence base to underpin this concern is, however, surprisingly limited, and characterised by differing and often partial understandings of the contested and politicised concept of integration. This project combines analysis of relevant quantitative data sets, with qualitative research with the two largest ethnic groups involved (Indian Sikhs and Pakistani Muslims), to compare transnational ‘homeland’ marriages with intra-ethnic marriages within the UK. These findings will enhance understanding of the relationships between marriage-related migration and the complex processes glossed as integration, providing much needed new grounding for both policy and academic debates.

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