Go to the Digital Library top page!

Social Studies

Click here to go to Great Migration introduction

Lecture Menu > The Great Migration

26. Influences on Migration Patterns

_________ have affected people very much. Very few people went back. Migration slowed downs a little bit in 1919-1920 and in part because of jobs. But in 1923 there's a huge upsurge again, so it's just a few years after.

[Female voice] And this is for the same reasons in 1923.

Yeah, the same kinds of reasons. Again, if you think about what do we mean by reasons, in other words I guess the way I try to think about this is something that makes something possible as opposed to something that makes people do something. So that the existence of jobs makes migration possible. It may not be for other ethnic groups, I mean that's why you have to look at each ethnic group differently. But I think in this case, what you see are jobs that make it possible to move from one place to another, but a whole set of reasons that make it desirable. In other words, why would I rather be there than here, well there's a whole set of reasons and I think it has something to do with this thing called citizenship. But it doesn't matter if there aren't any jobs there because you're not going to go because you'd be crazy to go.

That's why the second Great migration is different because you go even though there's no jobs. And the same thing during World War II, there are race riots during World War II in a variety of northern cities and yet migration increases dramatically right afterwards. Chicago has race riots in the early-mid 1950s related to housing all over the south side. And yet there are huge numbers of people coming from the south so riots don't seem to discourage people from coming.[Female voice] So sometimes is it, could it be a trend, I mean I know people do not leave what they know for something, but is it, could it be, be something popular just because, a trend or something like that that starts and then a whole bunch of people…

You have to--that's part of it although, and many people do have to leave the South during the fifties and sixties. But during this period they don't have to leave.
There is a phenomenon called chain migration where people go where they know people. And so once migration begins, it tends to continue. One prime example is that people from a certain town in Italy would all go to one place. Three people go and everybody starts to follow. And the problem with chain migration is that often chain migration starts when there are jobs available and then you get to a point where there are no jobs available but because of the chains, because of the familiarity of people who are already there, people are still going, but now they are going to a place where there's no jobs. The economists call this irrational, and you see that not just in this case but in lots of cases around the world especially, actually, in the last ten to fifteen years to African cities where you have chain migration situation where the economic rationality of it is completely gone.

But the other thing is that I think, again if you sort of think harder about this, the fact that riots don't discourage people, who are migrating, I think that tells you about the importance of violence and terror in the South. That OK, so there's a riot, big deal. Compare it with what we've got here, I can deal with that.

«previous 26 of 30 next »

Need help searching?
Search help

Search eCUIP:

Examples: or
Contact eCUIP!

Need help?

Return to the eCUIP top page!