This article revisits migrants’ informal social support by exploring their exchanges of material and immaterial resources with the family members left behind. The latter are typically constructed as net beneficiaries of migrants’ struggles for a livelihood abroad, and even as a potential constraint on their self-realization. Building on a qualitative study of Ecuadorian domestic workers in Italy, the author explores – instead – whether left-behind kin are also, potentially, a source of social support for them. In fact, transnational family relationships can facilitate the circulation of welfare-relevant resources from both sides. While migrants are expected to transnationally share the benefits of better life conditions abroad, ‘what’ they left behind contributes to their personal wellbeing in three respects: reverse remittances, emotional support and the provision of a locus for cultivating nostalgia, attachment and social status. The mixed influence of home-related family ties and obligations is assessed against the backdrop of migrants’ life course and patterns of integration. Overall, their interdependence with left-behinds is a source of benefits, and costs, which should not go unnoticed.

Burden, blessing or both? On the mixed role of transnational ties in migrant informal social support / Boccagni, Paolo. - In: INTERNATIONAL SOCIOLOGY. - ISSN 0268-5809. - STAMPA. - 30:3(2015), pp. 250-268. [10.1177/0268580915570508]

Burden, blessing or both? On the mixed role of transnational ties in migrant informal social support

Boccagni, Paolo
2015-01-01

Abstract

This article revisits migrants’ informal social support by exploring their exchanges of material and immaterial resources with the family members left behind. The latter are typically constructed as net beneficiaries of migrants’ struggles for a livelihood abroad, and even as a potential constraint on their self-realization. Building on a qualitative study of Ecuadorian domestic workers in Italy, the author explores – instead – whether left-behind kin are also, potentially, a source of social support for them. In fact, transnational family relationships can facilitate the circulation of welfare-relevant resources from both sides. While migrants are expected to transnationally share the benefits of better life conditions abroad, ‘what’ they left behind contributes to their personal wellbeing in three respects: reverse remittances, emotional support and the provision of a locus for cultivating nostalgia, attachment and social status. The mixed influence of home-related family ties and obligations is assessed against the backdrop of migrants’ life course and patterns of integration. Overall, their interdependence with left-behinds is a source of benefits, and costs, which should not go unnoticed.
2015
3
Boccagni, Paolo
Burden, blessing or both? On the mixed role of transnational ties in migrant informal social support / Boccagni, Paolo. - In: INTERNATIONAL SOCIOLOGY. - ISSN 0268-5809. - STAMPA. - 30:3(2015), pp. 250-268. [10.1177/0268580915570508]
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