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Abstract

The aspirations and the decisions of young Afghan men at the south-eastern borders of the EU are structured by a moral economy of migration that has a twofold dimension. On the one hand, migration implies a social system of exchange and redistribution between young migrants and their relatives who stayed behind. It is underpinned by a code of conduct implying mutual obligations and collective responsibilities, by a system of values and solidarity, norms and social obligations that defines what it means for them to be successful migrants and therefore 'good men'. On the other hand, migration is characterised by the high pressure to succeed. Prompted by their quest for autonomy and recognition, becoming increasingly aware during their journey that only a few of them will be able to settle down in Europe, the relationships among young migrants are imbued by competition and jealousy. Migration becomes a rite of passage to adulthood and obtaining protection in socially valued destinations in Europe amounts to accomplishing their mission. The hardship of the illegal journey emphasises the initiation dimension of migration while at the same time making success an extremely demanding task.

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