Masja van Meeteren (2014). Irregular Migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands

Van Meeteren Masja (2014). Irregular Migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 9089646434, 9789089646439

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This book surveys the many different ways in which irregular migrants settle and make a living in Belgium and the Netherlands. Offering an empirically grounded theoretical critique of the dominant research’s focus on survival strategies, overreliance on comparisons of migrant communities, and overemphasis on structural explanations, Masja van Meeteren instead takes the aspirations of irregular migrants as her starting point, which opens up fascinating new questions about their lives and roles in their new home nations.

Masja van Meeteren is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her research interests include intersections of migration, migration policy, informal social structures, crime and criminalization. She has published in journals such as Current Sociology, Global Networks, International Migration Review and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. A full overview of her publications is available through

“In this ground-breaking study, Masja van Meeteren shows how the focus of previous research on structures and control has led to misleading views on irregular migration. She proposes instead a focus on migrants’ aspirations, and her original research shows how this helps to explain the persistence of irregular migration as a global reality.”
Stephen Castles, University of Sydney

“A solid and valuable book, a major addition to the literature of a topic which commands increasing attention in Western societies”
Joaquín Arango, Complutense University of Madrid

 "Van Meeteren develops an unusual typology of irregular migrants based on their aspirations... [Her application] to topics including adaptation and transnational ties [yields] useful and nuanced insights into the dreams migrants bring into their migration experiences, the realities they face and the distinctive ways they endeavor to improve their lives."

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