Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If "illegality" is emergent then why are absolute numbers of overstayers going down?

It is in the confluence of the three emergent properties of interdependence, rationalization and abbreviation that I locate my theorized Compatriot Mechanism.  I contend that while the APCCRS suppressant strategies address the resultant properties of migrant illegality - thus explaining the decreasing numbers of overstayers - the same suppressant strategies are unable to make an impact on the emergent properties of migrant illegality since its persistent social structure expressed through the particular social relations between ethnic pockets and overstayers (in which interdependence, rationalization and abbreviation are rooted) remains intact.  Indeed, overstayer numbers may be decreasing but the capacity for emergent migrant illegality persists.

Indeed, informed by the critical realist view of emergence, it may also be that the part of migrant illegality reality that is being described by decreasing numbers of overstayers, while I argue this to be describing only its suppression of resultant properties, may be distinct, complementary or even constitutive or essential to that part of reality which I theorize as CTM.  Stated differently, APCCRS may be successful in suppressing innovation in migrant illegality and in ensuring that value negotiation favors the State (as seen in the decreasing overstayer numbers) but then this active suppression may 1) have nothing to do with or independent of cTm, or 2) may trigger or enhance more intense interdependence, rationalization and abbreviation.  APCCRS and cTm may be separate Empirical observations, or each may constitute part of the Actual from the varying or opposite perspectives of the participants of migrant illegality.

That the active suppression of migrant illegality (through APCCRS) and cTm are not mutually exclusive but rather related in some way can be seen by looking closer at what Archer (2003: 20-25) describes as the emergence of personal identity and the emergence of social identity.  Arguing within the context of the structure-agency debate, Archer assigns a reflexive role to the person (the social agent), as it nourishes, works and relates (the natural, practical and social orders of reality), thus actively forging a continuous sense of self that is formed individually– one’s emergent personal identity formed through its choices (modus vivendi) – but also contingently through our equally critically chosen social roles – one’s emergent social identity; the latter crystallizing within and thru the former.

Informed by Archer’s view of a reflexive social agent, we may now re-interpret innovation, value negotiation, interdependence; rationalization and abbreviation as resultant and emergent properties of migrant illegality in which overstayers and ethnic pockets (as individual members) exercise their reflexive sense of selves.  The overstayer’s modus vivendi, that is, his prioritization of economic values, dictates that he innovate and value-negotiate his way thru whatever political or legal obstacles presented by host States.  As compatriots sustain overstayers through their social identities as cTm agents, their own modus vivendi is continuously and interactively acted out in the context of the State’s active suppression of migrant illegality.

More concretely, when the State from time to time intensifies overstayer crackdowns, both overstayers and ethnic compatriots react in any of the following ways: 1) by intensifying (locking down their refuge of overstayers) or aborting (squealing or reporting an overstayer) interdependence, 2) broadening (more liberally justifying need to ask or give assistance) or constricting (reprioritizing own interests) rationalization, and 3) condone (employers of overstayers judging penalties to be worth the risks) or reject (overstayers deciding to surrender) abbreviation.  Simply put, compatriots cease, maintain or improve their social identities within the cTm mechanism, that is, as starters, enablers, legalizers or safety nets within the given constraint which is the active suppression of migrant illegality in Japan.

In summary of this section I now answer its primary question:  the apparent discord between an emergent migrant illegality that is sustained by cTm and the reported decreasing numbers of overstayers can be reconciled in a critical realist view of emergence that highlights the structural relations between both resultant and emergent properties of migrant illegality through which overstayers and their compatriots are reflexive social agents critically embodying both their personal and social identities.

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