Thursday, April 5, 2012

Theoretical Handle: Emergence

In the critical realist theory, the concept of emergence plays a central role in its view of reality as ontologically autonomous (Lopez 2003, p.77), that is, that what makes reality persistently more than what we attempt to know of it is its continuous generation of various permutations at multiple levels.

 The process and the result of this emergence is described as at once cumulative and synergistic – that “the operations of the higher level cannot be accounted for solely by the laws governing the lower level in which we might say the higher level is rooted and from which we might say it was emergent.” (Bhaskar 2008, p.113).

I thus apply emergence to help elucidate what I describe (starting in section 4.2.4.2) to be two of the resultant and three of the emergent properties of migrant illegality:  the former describing its cumulative or aggregative nature drawn from its component parts and the latter describing what has resulted from the synergy of its component parts.  The possibility of the “more” which the critical realist concept of emergence enables moves me to qualify that while my arguments are drawn from the Empirical (what I observed – as I cite case snippets and other bases of my observations) that this may only be a subset of the Actual (what may be in addition to what I observed) and thus all my arguments will be describing, if at all,  only a part of what is Real (the Empirical and Actual and all other future emergent combinations) (Bhaskar 1975, p.13 cited in Collier 1994, p.34).  

Elder-Vass (2010) defines an emergent property as "one that is not possessed by any of the parts individually and that would not be possessed by the full set of parts in the absence of a structuring set of relations between them" and a resultant property as "properties of a whole that are possessed by its parts in isolation, or in an unstructured aggregation."  Properties then of a migrant illegality whole arising from the particular ways immigration control technology, the migration legal framework, compliant migrant utilizers, migrant productivity, collaboration with foreign entities, geographic focus, and blocking of housing access interrelate may be specific only to the migrant illegality or in both migrant illegality and each of these seven component parts individually.

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