At the world's speed: migration and social changes



Maria da Penha Vasconcellos
Lecturer of the Public Health and the Global Health and Sustainability Graduate School Programs of the USP-SP/USP Public Health School



The issues and reasons that lead to immigration have longstanding existence and are not a particularly new field of investigation in human and social sciences. The nature of this phenomenon, always in transformation, makes it an important study subject to the understanding of its dynamics and tensions and its many conditions - social, political, religious, affective, economic and environmental - which determine the adversities and opportunities at the origin of human displacements.

Therefore, its analysis demands that it must be set into the context of social emergence and in historical perspective, avoiding stereotypes, conceptual definitions or generalizations about these social movements.

The characterization of the dynamics that cause migration demands constant research and thorough knowledge about the reasons that lead people, whether individual, family or groups, to experience a different way of structuring their lives: of the perspective of reaching, in the new context, new meanings regarding new forms of self interacting with others, with cultural traits and relations, of constituting new situational and relational identities forged between their original lifestyle and the new ones, of assimilating new rituals, rules and values. The diversity that arises from social class, ethnicity, age, gender, political position, family history, ways of dealing with personal and collective suffering, among others, paint a complex picture about the people that live under "migratory circumstances" - migrants or immigrants.

When one realizes the complexity related to the circumstances and reasons of their life, it becomes clear that one has to avoid reducing this complexity to a biomedical analysis of their health condition and their illnesses, of the organization of health services focused on migrants or temporary displaced people. The possible suffering that comes from these circumstances require readings that take into account other dimensions and related factors, which interfere in illness processes beyond standardized and normative practices usually found in "health problems management".

Human displacement, migrations and health problems were picked for this number of Saúde e Sociedade to highlight the investigations done, in the context of globalization, on this subject that's part of social history of mankind, but that nowadays develops new lining and visibility.

The selected articles provide visibility to investigations developed for migrants, particularly analyzing healthcare. The articles also bring questions about how these services are ill-prepared to deal, sociologically and anthropologically, with emotions and subjectivities of those who seek assistance and, especially, services in the social support area.

Two articles deal with immigration in Portugal and Spain. The paper "Saúde e bem-estar dos adolescentes imigrantes em Espanha e Portugal: Um estudo comparativo" focus on the perception of adolescent children of immigrants in Huelva (Spain) and Algarve (Portugal), about their health, well-being and factors of well-being and psychological adaptation. "Imigração e saúde: a (in)acessibilidade das mulheres imigrantes aos cuidados de saúde" seeks to trace the various social profiles of immigrant women in Portugal and their use of healthcare services, reflecting the factors which determine their (in)accessibility. The authors Topa, Neves and Nogueira emphasized the need to think beyond healthcare services when putting in evidence an important trend to be analyzed: the feminization of migrations.

The results from other two researches refer to social protection and health conditions of immigrants in the United States. The article "Indicadores de gobernanza para el desarrollo de estrategias binacionales de protección social en la salud de los migrantes" has as main objective to identify key actors, their roles and the spaces they interact for the development of social protection of the "undocumented" immigrants in US. The research "O acesso aos serviços de saúde por emigrantes brasileiros nos Estados Unidos" discusses the needs, the access and use of the American healthcare system by the immigrants of Governador Valadares, studying access viability and the use of healthcare services subsidized by federal and state government and non-governmental organizations.

The conditions of Bolivian immigrants in South America motivated two articles. "Desigualdad social, condiciones de acceso a la salud pública y procesos de atención en inmigrantes bolivianos de Buenos Aires y São Paulo: una indagación comparativa" is about comprehending work and social integration processes relate with the health condition of Bolivian immigrants in Buenos Aires and São Paulo. The research "Acesso dos imigrantes bolivianos aos serviços de saúde públicos na cidade de São Paulo" analyzes the satisfaction over healthcare access of Bolivian immigrants in São Paulo, comparing with it to Brazilians'.

"Religiosidade e rede de apoio social na vida das mulheres brasileiras e suas famílias no Japão" has the goal of exploring the impact and the meaning of religiousness in the life of Brazilian women and their families in Japan. The text shows that the situation of social alienation can lead to the appearance of "physical-moral disturbs", driving the women to reach for help in religious groups. The author Matsue addresses an important aspect through religiousness and spirituality, that enable us to understand differentiation practices and identification of the studied group, the residual persistence of religious culture as mental protection.

The articles present more than research results. They lead us to make a reflection about the processes of human displacement and migration, which by themselves are complex and involve circumstances and material, assistance and symbolic values. The human migrations, defined by differentiation and identification, permeated by emotion, between movements of resistance and fragility, seek opportunities and projects of life; they proceed as movements of acknowledgement and socio-cultural rights in the direction of making up for the social needs of everyday life, in food and sanitary safety, to the access to basic goods and to the escape of inclement weather.

Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. SP - Brazil
E-mail: saudesoc@usp.br