If I Had Known, I Wouldn't Have Gone There

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‘If I’d known, I wouldn’t have come’
The importance of information in the
migratory experience

Diana Mata-Codesal
Final Paper
January 2006
Brighton, United Kingdom

“If I´d known, I wouldn´t ha ve come”

Table of Contents

1. Introduction ............................................................................................ 2 2. Literature dealing with information ........................................................ 3 3. Migrants´ networks ................................................................................ 4 3.1 Brokerage within the networks: the professionalization of the solidarity ................................................................................................. 5 3.2 “Failed” migrants: the social shame .................................................. 7 4. Mass media or the distortion of reality. .................................................. 9 5. Consequences ....................................................................................... 10 6. Improving information ......................................................................... 12 6.1 Difficulties to improve information ................................................. 12 7. Final remarks........................................................................................ 14 Annex....................................................................................................... 16 Bibliography ............................................................................................ 18

1

“If I´d known, I wouldn´t ha ve come”

“If I’d known, I wouldn’t have come”

Quelle France j´ai découverte! Ce n´est pas du
tout ce que je m´attendais à trouver (...). Moi qui
croyais que la France c e n´ét ait pas l´exil
(elghorba). Il faut vraiment arriv er ici en France
pour s avoir la vérité. Ici on entend dire les c hoses
qu´on ne nous dit jamais là-bas au pays; on
entend tout dire: «Ce n´est pas une vie
d´humains; c´est une vie qu´on ne peut aimer; la
vie de chiens chez nous est meilleure que ça...».1

(Sayad, 1991: 36)

1. Introduction
Why do people migrate? This apparently straightforward question is the starting point for the whole range of disciplines involved in the so-called Migration studies. However, the answer is not as straightforward as the question suggests, since both concepts, people and the fact of migration, are two incredible polysemous terms. There are not people, there are specific individuals embedded into social and cultural meaningful relationships and contexts. Some of them can easily move everywhere in the world and they are willing to do it (like international students or retired senior citizens from highincome countries). Others are so highly `encouraged´ by circumstances that it is difficult to say they actually choose to migrate. Nevertheless, as long as there is a small room for manoeuvre, all them have to take one or several decisions, whether migrate or stay, and after deciding to migrate, where, when, how, etc. Hence, the decision-making process can be portrayed as the only stage all these individuals (i.e. free international migrants2) have in common.

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“What a Fr ance I have d iscov ered! It is none I exp ected to find. I did not believe France was the exile (elghorba is the Arab word for exile) . One must arrive in France to know the truth. H ere I have heard th e things we wer e never told ther e back (in refer ence to Algeria); it is said : “th is is not a life for human beings; it can not b e loved; our dogs back at home liv e better then we do here…” [* ] 2

Here, we encounter the f irst, and maybe the bigg est, problem in th e whole exposition of the argument. Working with th e assumption th at labour migr ation is free, is in a sense a way of forging the r eality .

2

“If I´d known, I wouldn´t ha ve come”

The decision-making process of migrating is very much related with information would-be migrants or stayers are...
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