Max Weber Revisited, the Verstehen of Migration through Qualitative Research

Retomando a Max Weber. Comprender la migración a través de la investigación cualitativa

Jorge A. Bustamante

Idioma original:

Resumen

Se incluye 1) una reinterpretación de un par de conceptos básicos (Gemeinten Sinn y Verstehen) de Max Weber. Se define a la migración internacional (inmigración) como una relación social de carácter laboral. Se hace referencia al libro de Ernesto Galarza. La noción teórica de Verstehen entendida por Weber como un “entendimiento profundo” de un fenómeno social, da lugar a la narración que hace el autor, derivada del uso del 2) método de “observación participante” de una experiencia personal. De ésta se deriva el concepto de vulnerabilidad que implica una innovación a los enfoques teóricos de la migración.

Lo anterior se encuadra en un enfoque metodológico de investigación cualitativa de la cual 3) no se desprenden “hallazgos” en su sentido empírico, sino explicaciones complementarias del “sentido” de los hechos relatados. 4) El encuentro del autor con un compañero migrante en el centro de detención, se presenta como el origen empírico del concepto de vulnerabilidad.

Palabras clave: relación social; migración internacional; vulnerabilidad; observación participante; investigación cualitativa


Abstract

This article begins with a reinterpretation of two basic concepts (Gemeinten Sinn and Verstehen) in Weber’s theory of social relations. It defines international immigration as a social labor relation, characterized by an asymmetry of power between the principal actors, namely, migrant workers and their employers. It refers to Ernesto Galarza’s book entitled Merchants of Labor: The Mexican Bracero Story. It proposes the use of a participant observation method in which the author poses as an undocumented/unauthorized Mexican immigrant, that is, as a subject in his own research.

This research design corresponds to a qualitative approach not aimed at an empirical “test of hypotheses” but instead focused on a “deep understanding”—or what Max Weber understood by his methodological concept of Verstehen—of social phenomena. A reference to an encounter with a fellow inmate in a detention center led to an empirical foundation for the concept of vulnerability used in further explaining and measuring migrations.

Keywords: social relation; international migration; vulnerability of immigrants; participant observation; qualitative research



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