This Research Unit brings together scholars from sociology, anthropology and political science in order to examine the nexus between transborder mobility and institutions from a transregional and transnational perspective that extends beyond European host countries. It aims to explore the ways in which institutions frame, shape or control mobility (especially labour migration, educational migration and forced migration) and considers the influence of these forms of mobility on institutional endurance or change. Building on five closely intertwined subprojects, the particular focus of the Research Unit’s theoretical and empirical analyses are the institutional dynamics – i.e. processes of institutionalisation, de- and re-institutionalisation and institutional pluralisation – that accompany transborder mobility and the mechanisms of internal and external institutional regulations of mobility.
As numerous public socio-political debates indicate, transborder mobility poses significant challenges to existing institutions. At the same time, institutional practices and (un)certainties are potentially as mobile as the actors involved in transborder mobility. This means that institutions can materialise, re-materialise, change or dissolve beyond their societal context of origin and thus trigger, shape or impede various forms of mobility. The Research Unit thus builds on the assumption that the interplay between institutions and various phenomena of transborder mobility is conflict-laden and also challenges existing social scientific frameworks of analysis. With a particular focus on institutional dynamics and the institutional strategies of social actors enmeshed in transborder mobility, the Research Unit seeks to explain the ways in which institutions simultaneously have the potential to mobilise or immobilise social actors and how transborder mobility probably transforms or even transnationalises institutions.
The particular relevance of this Research Unit is founded, firstly, in its systematic empirical and theoretical focus on the intersections of transborder mobility and institutions from a transdisciplinary, transnational and transregional perspective. Secondly, it addresses an existing research gap since, to date, social scientists have often explored mobility and migration separately from institutions and institutional dynamics. Ultimately, the Research Unit aims to gain empirically nuanced and theoretically grounded insights into the nexus between transborder mobility and institutional dynamics and contribute to a better understanding of these publicly relevant socio-political phenomena by developing an analytical toolkit for this purpose.