Towards a Migrant-Centred Perspective on International Migration: The Contribution of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach


  • Sara Bonfanti Migration Policy Centre of the European University Institute, Fiesole


agency, human mobility, multidimensional well-being, structural constraints


Cross-border migration, a multifaceted phenomenon involving a heterogeneous population all over the world, is studied by a fragmented host of theories. Departing from a critical review of economic neo-classical theories, this paper proposes a model which is able to overcome some of the pitfalls of such approaches  to migration and to bring to the forefront migration as a fundamental capability whose impact on  migrants’ well-being depends on the interconnection between structural phenomena and migrants’ agency.  This is achieved by combining the explanatory power provided by an integrated reading of the main existing theories about international migration with the theoretical tools offered by the Amartya Sen’ capability framework and the findings of the migration-related literature recently developed within the HDCA scholarship. A discussion of the most suited methods to operationalize such framework concludes the paper.




Chapter 3: Migration, aspirations and autonomy: Young migrant people in different educational settings in Europe