Rationale

Cognitive scientists shed new light on core concepts of the social sciences: rationality, expectation, identity, social status, intergroup communication, and time perception to name a few. At the crossroads of disciplines, a burgeoning literature (in social neurosciences: Swencionis and Fiske 2014; cognitive sociology: Zerubavel 1999; Cerulo 2014; or cognitive social sciences: Lizardo 2014) advances our understanding of the sociocultural underpinnings of mental processes (Zerubavel 1999, 2015; Zerubavel and Smith 2010; Turner 2001; Lizardo 2014).

This project joins this endeavor by pairing the discoveries of social and cognitive scientists to revisit focal issues of the migration studies literature. We argue that, instead of relying on implicit assumptions about cognitive processes (DiMaggio 1997; DiMaggio and Markus 2010), social scientists can gain much from incorporating cognitivists’ empirical perspective (Massey 2002). In turn, international migration leads individuals to experience contrasted environments; we posit that a sociocognitive approach to migration (Deaux 2006), as an extreme form of social mobility, will help decipher thought processes relative to the broader sociocultural contexts.
Focusing on research questions with strong policy implications (Massey 2006; Olivier de Sardan 2005, 2013), this network has identified three strategic lines of research.

1. Aspirations as an Expression of the Self
Memories of migration and migratory projects have been addressed separately in the literature – but they have obvious linkages and, at times, curious disconnections (Lacroix 2014). The knowledge of past moves, accumulated at family or group levels, serves as a compass for orienting newcomers (Basch, and al. 1994). Yet, political or social constraints can distort narratives and alter individual and collective memories (Zerubavel 2012); and, in turn, affect individuals’ decisions (for instance regarding the opportunity to migrate). To date, we have a limited understanding of the extent to which migratory projects draw upon memories, elements that occur in the course of the migration (such as new opportunities or encounters), or long-term aspirations.
However, a growing body of research investigates aspirations (or intentions) to migrate as both cause and consequence of mobility (Czaika and Vothknecht 2014; Carling 2014; Gubert and Senne 2016; Boccagni 2017). Beyond the field of migration studies, social scientists develop innovative approaches to the impact of socially constructed aspirations on individual and collective trajectories (Mische 2009; 2014; Frye 2012; Greenaway, Frye, and Cruwys 2015). Although the scholarship first underlined the positive consequences of aspirations on development outcomes (Reynolds and Baird 2010; Genicot and Ray 2014), recent research suggests that dreaming too big might also yield negative consequences (Sevincer et al. 2014; Czaika and Vothknecht 2014; Greenaway, Frye, and Cruwys 2015; Ray 2016).
Through further investigating the sociopolitical implications of the capacity to aspire and plan accordingly (Emirbayer and Mische 1998; Tavory and Eliasoph 2013; Seligman 2016), this network seeks to illuminate the complex relationships between internal mental processes, collectively constructed meanings, and socioeconomic development.

2. Multi-polarized Identities
Migration is a journey through categories. Individuals are attributed an array of administrative statuses over the course of their trajectory (Vickstrom and Beauchemin 2016). People can shift, from asylum seeker to unaccompanied minor, from tourist to deportee… And the state is not the only “identifier” (Brubaker, Loveman, and Stamatov 2004). Migrants’ social and professional trajectories entail a transformation of their self-perception: emigrants become immigrants, children whose journey was once mandated by their parents become parents in the place of arrival, while peasants become factory workers with a new political identity (Lacroix, Sall, and Salzbrunn 2008)… Migrants cope with contradictory and, at times, degrading obligations deriving from their multiple social backgrounds. This is the case, for example, for those coming from upper-class families who fulfill underpaid jobs at destination – leading to forms of social schizophrenia.
Today there is virtually no research investigating the cognitive implications and psychological pathologies that stem from identity conundrums induced by migration trajectories. However the multipolarization of individuals’ identity illustrates the urge to move beyond theorization “forged for the study of social processes in self-contained societies” (Lacroix 2014; Lacroix 2015:201). This is all the more the case since the current focus on the multiplication of identity referentials illustrates the convergence of migration studies (Crul, Schneider, and Lelie 2013; Lacroix 2015), cognitive sociology (Ridgeway and Cornell 2006; Brubaker, Loveman, and Stamatov 2004; Brubaker and Cooper 2000), and social psychology (Deaux and Burket 2010). Indeed researchers in these different fields increasingly underline the fluidity of identification processes and the propensity of social actors to have multifaceted identities (Deaux 2006; Deaux and Burket 2010; DiMaggio and Markus 2010). In this respect, exploring identity formation in mobility will illuminate the consequences of migrants’ journey through categories, be they administrative (official), exogenous (unofficial denominations attributed by others, at destination), or intragroup (self-perception of minorities).

3. The Cognition-Development Nexus
The migration-development nexus has attracted sustained academic attention over the last decades (Massey 1988; Massey et al. 1993) – but the jury is still out regarding the impact of mobility on receiving and sending areas (Kapur 2010). A welcomed shift in research focus, from the economic to the sociopolitical implications of human mobility, unraveled migrants’ crucial role in the circulation of immaterial resources, such as ideas, practices, and know-hows (Levitt 1998; Meyer 2006; Kapur 2010). These “intangible cognitive remittances” have an even more critical impact than the flow of money, as shown across various contexts (Meyer 2001; Martiniello and Lafleur 2008; Spilimbergo 2009; Kapur 2014; Chauvet, Gubert, and Mesplé-Somps 2016).
An engaging body of work looks at the educational trajectories of children of immigrants (Kao and Tienda 1998; Tienda 2013) on the one hand, and at the linguistic skills of immigrant descents (Rumbaut and Massey 2013) on the other – but little is known regarding the specificity of primo-migrants’ learning experiences abroad. However, recent research underlines dramatic differences in learning processes (and notably in reading acquisition) across language environments (Ziegler and Goswami 2006). In this respect, a focus on migrants’ learning processes, across countries of destination, would advance our understanding of cross-language acquisition, in different countries. This line of research would also extend the body of evidence showing that individuals learn new skills more easily if they “experience a sense of fit” with their environment and identify with their peers (Brannon, Markus, and Taylor 2015; Leung et al. 2008; Lakin 2012; Kim and Lundberg 2015); while the perception of negative stereotypes in the environment is associated with underperformance (Loose et al. 2012; Pansu et al. 2016).
Today, there is a dearth of research on skill acquisition among high-skilled migrants, although this line of research would be prone to gauging the generalizability of the latest findings in the field of social cognition. Indeed, this scholarship remains limited by the paucity of data collected beyond the (very specific) North American context (Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan 2010). While Europeans are poorly represented, citizens born in non-Western countries are largely absent from research in social psychology and cognitive science today – a situation that our network strives to challenge.

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