Journal Articles

Smaller Cities as Sites of Youth Migrant Incorporation

Mukta Naik


May 27, 2024

Rather than the long-term rural–urban migration to metropolitan centres, India’s structural transformation process is characterised by complexified migrations and dispersed urbanisation. This article develops concepts of cities positioned in multiscalar power to propose a place-based, mobilities-sensitive approach and relational approach to urban theory that place smaller Indian cities within a broader narrative on migrant incorporation beyond the restrictive dichotomies of global and ordinary cities and domestic and international migration. Through two case studies, it shows how, despite low scalar positions on account of weak governance and informalised economies, smaller cities shape varied employment opportunities and generate spatially and temporally varied mobilities for domestic migrants. However, incorporation remains contingent on patronage-based social networks, creating differentiated experiences for those from different social locations; still more inclusive incorporation pathways are possible through expanding welcoming infrastructure and social fields for young migrants.

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