Countries Can No Longer Exclude Immigrants

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In today’s world migration is a social phenomenon that affects a variety of countries. Nations are either experiencing an influx of immigrants or have the problem of individuals exiting their country. This movement of people between nations gives rise to a multitude of problems. The issue that this paper will explore, using examples from around the world, is that of incorporation. How are immigrants incorporated into their new social and geographic setting? Is this a smooth process or are immigrants locked in a period of liminality (transition stage) where they are literally and figuratively neither here nor there? In addition, are there possible solutions that can better facilitate the incorporation of immigrants and the movement of people between nations?

Taboo, Liminality, and Boundaries

“The idea of Society is a powerful image. It is potent in its own right to control or stir men to action. This image has form; it has external boundaries, margins, and internal structure. Its outlines contain power to reward conformity and repulse attack. There is energy in its margins and unstructured areas. For symbols of society any human experience of structures, margins, or boundaries is ready to hand (Douglas 1966:113).”

- from Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger

In the above quotation Mary Douglas (1960) describes the fundamental aspect of a society. Any organization of humans forms its own boundaries, whether real or imagined, and these have social consequences if crossed. Likewise, as immigrants cross the literal and figurative border of a state, they transgress both the social and geographic boundaries of the society in question.

For most migrants the transition or “rite of passage” from one country to another ...

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