The Structure and Dynamics of Migration Patterns in 19th-century Northern France
Using empirical data from 19th century Northern France, an area of quick urbanization and industrialization, and techniques derived from dynamic network analysis, this paper first suggests a method to identify invisible spatial patterns, ie hidden channels of preferential relationships between spatial units (in our case the communes, which are the administrative equivalent of religious parishes). Second, it studies whether and to what extent these channels were instrumental into migration processes. Did migrants who left to the cities borrow ancient paths that irrigated their village? In that case, urbanization process, which is a traditional symbol of “modernization”, went through old patterns, possibly directly inherited from Ancien Régime. Or on the reverse, have they been uprooted by a macroeconomic process that has left no space to previous structures and determinations? Raising this question as such is the only way to check whether the “rural exodus” model has any relevance. In order to test it, we will have to introduce time within our demonstration and statistical tests. To what extent is a spatial pattern at moment B contained within (or at least compatible with the possible evolutions of) a spatial pattern at moment A? Without reducing our hypotheses to a fight between economic and spatial determinations, our empirical work will help us to study precisely how those two dimensions interfere in social processes.