UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

African rural-urban migration a decision making perspective Bartle, Philip F. W.


Rural-urban migration is fundamentally a demographic phenomenon. It should be also open to analysis at the level of individual decision making as well as the demographic level so common in the literature. The individual acts or operates within a social and physical environment. He perceives some of the information available to him concerning the various dimensions of his environment. He acts with reference to his perception and his manipulation of that information. An observer cannot directly perceive the process of a West African making decisions. However he could note relevant information which may be available to a migrant. The observer could then note the migrant's actions. From these two sets of data the observer might surmise about the intermediate decision making process. This might be called the Information-decision-action perspective. From this perspective of the individual level a set of axioms can be constructed to generate a number of hypotheses concerning migration. Available literature on rural-urban migration in Africa, plus some from other geographic areas for comparison, is examined with respect to the hypotheses generated. As most of the data refer to overall movements, a certain transformation of the data is required to make them useful to the individual level of analysis attempted in this thesis. Most of the source data support the four categories of hypotheses I have developed but a few notable exceptions provide a useful reexamination of the formal approach of this thesis. After outlining the perspective and applying it to migration literature I turned to study a localised setting in West Africa. The ethnographic environment of Kwawu migrants is described from census data and personal recollection. The social and physical environments of the Kwawu traditional area and of Accra, the capital city to which most Kwawu migrate are described as information available to a hypothetical individual. This is followed by an example of a particular individual in a transitory state. The aggregate data related to the differential migration of Kwawu are examined and a demonstration model is generated from the Information-decision-action perspective to indicate the extent to which this approach is predictive. The individual's decision making process, or Information-decision-action perspective is outlined in Chapter One and is related in Chapter Two to relevant literature. Chapters Three, Four, and Five parallel the Information-decision-action perspective; Chapter Three deals with Kwawu ethnographic information; Chapter Four is a description of one Kwawu individual's decisions; and Chapter Five relates the resulting actions of Kwawu migrants. The problems of relating aggregate data to individual experiences and the problems of integrating personal and library sources of information are briefly examined in a summary chapter.

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