Climate change and non-migration – exploring the role of place relations in rural and coastal Bangladesh

MM Golam Rabbani, Matthew Cotton, Richard Friend

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Of growing research and policy interest are the experiences of people living under conditions of climate change-induced environmental stress, that are either unable to migrate (sometimes described as a ‘trapped population’) or are seemingly unwilling to do so (sometimes described as the ‘voluntarily immobile’). This paper problematises and expands upon these binary categories: examining the complex dimensionality of non-migration as a form of place relations, explored through qualitative study of rural and coastal Bangladeshi communities. Through 60 semi-structured interviews of individuals from four communities in the Kalapara region, the analysis proffers four qualitatively derived and inter-related dimensions of voluntary and involuntary migration framed as a form of place relations. These four dimensions concern: (1) livelihood opportunities, (2) place obduracy, (3) risk perceptions, and (4) social-structural constraints; with the interplay between these elements explaining diverse non-migratory experiences. In our analysis ‘place obduracy’ is introduced as a concept to describe the differential speed of environmental change and socio-cultural adaptation responses to explain non-migratory experiences. Our discussion provides insight into how to best support non-migrant people’s adaptive capacity in the face of growing climate emergency.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPopulation and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2022


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