On the West–East methodological bias in measuring international migration

Anastasia Gorodzeisky, Inna Leykin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the complex relations between two social processes–standardisation and quantification in measuring migration. We explore how international migrant populations in the European territories of the former USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia have been defined, counted and presented in European population statistics. Our analysis led us to conclude that the category of international migrant, defined as a person born abroad according to the present-time borders, has low contextual validity in postsocialist European contexts. Perceived as universally applicable, however, the category is persistently used in enumerating migration in postsocialist Europe. We argue that the unchallenged transferability of the category of international migrant across contexts is based on the West–East methodological bias–a preconception embedded in the standardisation and quantification of migration. The West–East methodological bias plays a dual role. It fuels the initial perception of the category, forged in Western geopolitical contexts, as standardised and applicable across different settings. Then, in combination with the perceived power of the quantified representation of reality, the West–East methodological bias contributes to the further objectification of the standardised category.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3160-3183
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number13
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2022

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  • Europe
  • Methodological bias
  • migration statistics
  • politics of knowledge
  • quantification
  • standardisation


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