Each year four million people migrate across national boundaries, with an estimated total migrant population of 244 million worldwide. When considering internal migration, scholars estimate that there are 740 million internal migrants, with large proportions of these moving from rural to urban areas. With the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and the upcoming Global Compact on Migration, member states have recognized the need for enhanced commitment to cooperation around a number of migration-related issues including: protecting the safety, dignity and human rights of all migrants; supporting the integration of migrants into receiving communities; and working to improve the identification, protection and assistance of human trafficking victims. From this call for greater cooperation and commitment to issues affecting migrants, the UNU-CS research project on the use of technology by labor migrants in vulnerable situations has emerged.
The project consists of two phases. The first phases consists of a series of case and design studies targetting key points of exploitation during the migration cycle. The purpose of each study is to understand the role that ICTs currently play, and could play, to empower migrants in particular vulnerable situations in a way to enhance their situated agency. Based on the findings of the studies, a small number of specific ICT innovation activities will be undertaken.
The second phase will use an inductive approach to understand how ICTs can be used to empower labor migrants situated agency, and enable them to enhance their conditions. Responding to the common criticisms of the Capability Approach, this research takes a critical perspective to analyze the structural issues that encapsulate migrants’ agency, such as gender, race, ethnicity, economic or political power relations, and so forth. This overarching theoretical framework will be further defined by embracing other meso-theories to assist our empirical investigation of the Capability Approach.