Migration infrastructures and the production of migrants’ irregularity in Japan and the United Kingdom

Nando Sigona*, Jotaro Kato, Irina Kuznetsova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The article examines the migration infrastructures and pathways through which migrants move into, through and out of irregular status in Japan and the UK and how these infrastructures uniquely shape their migrant experiences of irregularity at key stages of their migration projects. Our analysis brings together two bodies of migration scholarship, namely critical work on the social and legal production of illegality and the impact of legal violence on the lives of immigrants with precarious legal status, and on the role of migration infrastructures in shaping mobility pathways. Drawing upon in-depth qualitative interviews with irregular and precarious migrants in Japan and the UK collected over a ten-year period, this article develops a three-pronged analysis of the infrastructures of irregularity, focusing on infrastructures of entry, settlement and exit, casting a comparative light on the mechanisms that produce precarious and expendable migrant lives in relation to access to labour and labour conditions, access and quality of housing and law enforcement, and how migrants adapt, cope, resist or eventually are overpowered by them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalComparative Migration Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • Immigration enforcement
  • Informal labour
  • Irregular migration
  • Japan
  • Migration infrastructure
  • Migration policy
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Law


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