The social front door: the role of social infrastructures for migrant arrival

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Much research on migrant arrival and settlement has looked at these processes through the lens of ‘integration’, investigating how migrants access societal realms such as the labour market, education, civil society and social networks, and mostly focusing on individual migrants’ processes of incorporation. A complementary body of work has looked at how socio-economic contexts can shape integration and social mobility. This article expands on this work by highlighting the importance of place in migrant arrival and settlement. It builds on an emerging body of literature that has emphasised that where migrants arrive plays a crucial role in their ability to access resources. Drawing on two sets of ethnographic fieldwork in East London, the article presents a micro-analysis of how migrants make their way into the city with the help of publicly accessible social infrastructures (shops, libraries, barbers, parks, etc.) and individuals working within these. The article demonstrates that social infrastructures are a crucial element amongst a range of arrival infrastructures that can be found in urban areas of long-standing immigration and highlights the role of the built environment regarding opportunities for accessing information about settlement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Early online date18 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council: [grant number ES/T015810/1]; London School of Economics and Political Science; Stiftung Mercator


  • Arrival
  • social infrastructures
  • place
  • built environmen


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