Bringing Actors and Conflict into Forced Migration Literature. A Proposed Model of the Decision to Return


Year: 2010 HiCN Working Paper No. 073

Populations displaced as a result of mass violent conflict have become one of the most pressing humanitarian concerns of the last decades. They have also become one salient political issue as a perceived burden (in economic and security terms) and as an important piece in the shift towards a more interventionist paradigm in the international system, based on both humanitarian and security grounds. The saliency of these aspects has detracted attention from the analysis of the interactions between relocation processes and violent conflict. Violent conflict studies have also largely ignored those interactions as a result of the consideration of these processes as mere reaction movements determined by structural conditions. This article takes the view that individual’s agency is retained during such processes, and that it is consequential, calling for the need to introduce a micro perspective. Based on this, a model for the individual’s decision of return is presented. The model has the potential to account for the dynamics of return at both the individual and the aggregate level. And it further helps to grasp fundamental interconnections with violent conflict. Some relevant conclusions are derived for the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina and about the implications of the politicization of return.