2 Taster materials

Extract two from Y157 Understanding society

Extract two

The next extract is from Chapter 5 of the course book which uses the theme of connectedness to help to explore the reasons why people travel to other countries for work, the levels of inward migration to the UK and what the effects of migration are. The extract is from the start of the chapter and looks at the main reasons for migration. Read through the extract and try the notetaking activity at the end.

5.1 Introduction

In the last chapter we explored debates about the development of a global market. We looked at the way that products and information are increasingly being traded between parts of the world that have been historically quite separate. Our argument was that globalisation has resulted in us being able to buy goods from all over the world. We also looked at arguments that globalisation has increased inequality between the developed and the developing world. One feature of globalisation that we didn't explore and that we are going to look at in detail in this chapter is the impact that an increasing globalisation might be having on people and where they work. Not only can we buy goods from around the world, perhaps we are more likely to meet other people from around the world.

Most people who are in paid work have to travel to their jobs, sometimes over great distances. It's not unusual in big cities to spend more than an hour each morning and evening on the journey between home and work. For some people though, their journey to work involves leaving home completely, and travelling to another region in their own country or to another country altogether. This chapter is about

why this happens and what the effects are on the migrant workers themselves and on the places they travel to.

So who are migrant workers?

In this chapter we will explore our main question of why people travel to other countries for work by asking a few other questions. First of all we will ask what the reasons are for migration. We will tackle the theme of change by asking whether the reasons are changing, and will ask whether migration is increasing. Finally, we will explore the positive and negative effects of connectedness through migration.

In the effective study section at the end of this chapter, we will be looking at the stages of essay writing.

Aims of this chapter

Let's start with looking at what history can tell us about the reasons for migration.

5.2 The reasons for migration – a brief history

It is likely that human beings have always been migratory, that is they have moved from one place to another when food gets short or under pressure from more successful groups. Mass population movement from one settled area to another, however, is probably fairly recent and is to do with the growth in international trade.

One early example of enforced population movement was slavery. The lucrative trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries between Europe, Africa and the Americas was a hugely important element in the creation of the wealth of Britain and the growth of its sea power and ports. Goods such as clothing and guns were manufactured in Britain and taken to the west coast of Africa to be sold; in Africa slaves were imprisoned and sold as slaves to be transported to the Americas to work in the new sugar and cotton growing industries; sugar and cotton were then transported back to Britain to be sold on the home market. Of course slaves didn't choose to migrate for work. They were forced to move, but there is still a clear relationship between economic forces and the movement of people.

Migration is often explained by social scientists as a complex combination of economic and political forces that both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ the process.

Like many explanations, this is a simplification of what will always be a very complex process, and particular migrations will always result from a complex combination of factors, but using this push/pull model helps us to analyse events like migration. Let's see what this means.

Activity 17

Read the following extract and using the skills of note taking described in Chapter 2 make a list of the factors encouraging migration. Remember Activity 4 in Chapter 2 where you were asked to take notes in the form of ‘bullet points’. Try this again here.

The Highland Clearances

The Highlands of Scotland are noted for their scenery, the inaccessible mountains and wilderness areas of the tourist brochures. The picture we gain from these brochures is of a largely unpopulated land, with more sheep than people and a few scattered villages relying on tourism for their survival.

Few people realise that 300 years ago the hills and valleys of the Highlands had a much higher population than they do today with many small, largely self-sufficient communities working the land and raising cattle. These communities lived on land owned by a clan chief, although the clan chief didn't ‘own’ the land in the way that we think of today. The people paid no rent, but performed services for him, such as serving in his army.

The English wanted to break this clan loyalty, and after the defeat of the Highland Army at Culloden in 1746, the ‘clan’ landholding system was destroyed. Clan chiefs began to try to exploit ‘their’ land commercially, by demanding rent from their tenants. They also wanted their tenants to work on new commercial ventures. Many agricultural and industrial ventures were tried but most failed until in the early 1800s the price of wool soared in southern markets and sheep became profitable on the otherwise largely infertile upland of the Highlands. Wool was needed on a commercial scale for woollen mills and the production of cloth for export as well as for the home market. Mutton too was needed in large quantities to feed the rapidly expanding populations of the industrialised towns of England. The Highland people were ousted from their agricultural tenancies in the hills and valleys and forced to move to new settlements on the coastal strip to make way for the sheep.

Without the land to raise cattle and pay the rent on their new tenancies, the Highlanders provided a labour force for the landlords other industry, the kelp industry. This involved the gathering, drying, and burning of seaweed to create products for use in the soap and glass industries. Unfortunately for the Highlander, the kelp industry was seasonal and no wages were paid in the winter, although rent was still charged on their houses and land. Few knew how to fish or had the means to do so, and cockles and mussels are a poor substitute for beef. Many were forced into poverty, and began to emigrate. In 1800 only 830 people emigrated from the Highlands, but by 1803 this had risen to 20,000. Initially, the landlords were concerned about the loss of their labour, and laws were passed which restricted emigration by increasing the cost. By 1826, however, returns from the kelp industry had fallen dramatically with the introduction of cheaper and more efficient alternatives and the Highlander was again surplus to requirements. Now the landlords spent time encouraging the dependent and burdensome Highlander to emigrate, and in many cases those who refused were evicted and their homes burned to the ground.

‘In 1826, MacLean of Coll arranged to have 300 people shipped from his Rhum estate to Canada. MacLean spent £5.70 on each adult emigrant's passage. But the investment from his point of view – if not from that of the islands occupants, who were noticeably reluctant to leave the land of their ancestors, was an eminently sound one. Rhum's original yearly rental was about £300. Cleared (of people) and let as a single sheep farm it brought in £800 to its proprietor.’ (Hunter. 1976 p46) Today, the island of Rhum is permanent home to 26 people.


The notes you made may have looked a little like this; Reasons for emigration of Highlanders mostly push factors:-

  • break-up of traditional clan system,
  • money to be made from sheep and kelp industry required internal migration to coast,
  • failure of kelp industry forced outward migration,
  • Some early migrants perhaps ‘pulled’ by possibility of new and better life elsewhere, but most are forced into migration.