Workshop 9 / GRM 2020
Social Remittances and Social Change: Links between Home and Host Communities in the Gulf

The main purpose of this workshop is to expand the knowledge on the transfer and exchange of social remittances by migrants and their families when they move from one country to another, temporarily or permanently. Values, beliefs, norms, behavioral preferences, and skills may be transmitted between countries and communities to which migrants move, or from which they originate. Research from the USA and Europe shows that various forms of soci ...

The main purpose of this workshop is to expand the knowledge on the transfer and exchange of social remittances by migrants and their families when they move from one country to another, temporarily or permanently. Values, beliefs, norms, behavioral preferences, and skills may be transmitted between countries and communities to which migrants move, or from which they originate. Research from the USA and Europe shows that various forms of social remittances are generated by the interaction of migrants between their home and host countries. The Gulf countries are host to some of the largest migrant communities in the world, a majority of whom are temporary labor migrants. Despite their large volume, hardly any research exists on this topic in the Gulf region. Our specific objectives are to enhance the understanding of the types, nature, and frequency of social remittance diffusion between communities in the home country and major countries (and communities) of destination, especially in the Gulf. Also, we aim to gauge the major social changes and outcomes that may have resulted from the diffusion of social remittances, and to assess the development impacts that the above may have generated, in order to suggest some policy guidelines that may aid such development in future.                                 When a person moves, temporarily or permanently, from one community to another he/she brings along many ideas, values, beliefs, and behaviors he acquired in the native culture. Upon arrival in the host country, the migrant is exposed to a whole new range of cultural prescripts. Successful integration and performance in the new environment require a certain degree of re-socialization that may in fact challenge or negate the values and beliefs formerly held. The migrant must then negotiate and adjust with many new realities. In time, the ideas of the host country may be adopted, to varying degrees, depending on the particular circumstances of the migrant, and may be transmitted back to the home country. Continued interaction and engagement with the home country is typical of many migrants, especially in the earlier phases of the migration trajectory. Such interaction results in cultural diffusion, described by Levitt (1998) as social remittances in the form of “ideas, behaviors, identities and social capital that flow from receiving to sending countries”. Thus, a person’s definition of appropriate and suitable norms may get re-formulated as a result of exposure to the destination country norms, and may span social, psychological, philosophical, political and religious ideas and beliefs. In many cases, migration is not spread equally across all geographical locations within a country. Specific areas and communities demonstrate a higher propensity to migrate than others, partially as a result of social networks that enable and promote the migration of friends and relatives in the home country. At the same time, specific geographical areas within the host countries become home to migrants owing to land and rental costs, government policies about locating migrants, preferences of migrants, and other factors.  This historical spatial growth and settlement of migrants results in the development of home and host communities that may be paired together to study the two-way flow of social remittances. The Gulf region has been home to foreign workers and their families for several decades. The long-term (though ‘temporary’) presence of non-nationals has had many impacts in terms of the residential patterns, institutional development, and indigenous lifestyles. The host country is now home to second and third generation migrants from Asian and Arab countries. Even though the Gulf region does not have policies to integrate foreign workers, social and cultural influences on the receiving countries are inevitable. At the same time, in addition to massive financial remittances from the Gulf to a large number of countries, social and ideational remittances are impacting the sending countries in a variety of ways. Contrary to the attention that the flow of financial remittances has received worldwide, the transfers of social remittances remain a largely under-researched area, especially in the Gulf and Middle East. Beyond the work by USA researchers such as Levitt and colleagues, the topic has been addressed recently by scholars in Europe, looking at social remittances between European host and home countries (Grabowska et al., 2017), and between European and other countries (Norwicka and Serbedzida, 2016). The partial convergence of Egyptian non-migrants’ birth rates with those of Gulf populations through a mechanism of “ideational remittances” (non-migrants in Egypt are exposed through their migrants to models prevailing in the Gulf) was also pointed out by Fargues (2011). Yet, similar research on the Gulf region is almost non-existent.

Description and Rationale

 Objectives and Scope

The overall goal of this workshop is thus to advance the body of knowledge about the types, modes, and channels through which social remittances are transmitted and the impacts such remittances exert on social change in the home and/or host countries. Our geographical focus is essentially the Gulf. With almost half of its population composed of foreign nationals, the Gulf is home to temporary labor migrants from a wide range of countries, predominantly in South and Southeast Asia. Thus, papers relating to corridors linking Asia or Middle East and the Gulf would be given a priority. However, research focusing on other parts of the world will also be considered. Papers focusing on social remittances by returnees from the Gulf will also be welcome.

The specific objectives of the international conference are to:

 

1.     Enhance our understanding of the types, nature, and frequency of social remittance diffusion between communities in the home country and major countries (and communities) of destination, especially in the Gulf.

 

2.     To gauge the major social changes and outcomes that may have resulted from the diffusion of social remittances, focusing on the home country as well as the host countries (and communities).

 

3.     To assess the development impacts that the above may have generated, in order to suggest any policy guidelines that may aid such development in future.

 

Anticipated Participants

 Papers may focus on any of the aspects outlined above. They may analyze the social ties of migrants in the host country with their home country and the diffusion of ideas, political orientations, values, behaviors and “material dimensions of transnational circulation” (Lacroix, Levitt and Vari-Lavoisier, 2016) that impact their home communities. If possible, they may look at pairs of home and host communities, assessing social remittance exchanges and their impacts. Papers may also focus on social changes in home country households and communities generated by social remittances and their consequent impacts on beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Papers focusing on the Gulf will be given priority, although ones on other parts of the world will also be considered.

Bibliography

 Boccagni, P., Decimo, F. (2013). Mapping social remittances. Migration Letters, 10(1), 1-10.

Levitt, P. (2015). Artifacts and allegiances: how museums put the nation and the world on display. Oakland: University of California Press. 

Carøe Christiansen, Connie. « Gender and social remittances », Chroniques yéménites [Online], 17 | 2012, http://journals.openedition.org/cy/1869; DOI: 10.4000/cy.1869

Chauvet, L., & Mercier, M. (2014). Do return migrants transfer political norms to their origin country? Evidence from Mali. Paris, Dauphine University.  https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jcecon/v42y2014i3p630-651.html

Fargues, Ph. (2011) “International Migration and the Demographic Transition: A Two-Way Interaction” The International Migration Review, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Fall 2011), pp. 588-614.

Grabowska I, et al. (2016). Migrants as Agents of Social Change: Social Remittances in an Enlarged European Union. Palgrave Macmillan, London

Kapur, D. (2010). Diaspora, development, and democracy the domestic impact of international migration from India. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kapur, D. (2014). Political effects of international migration. Annual Review of Political Science, 1(17), 479–502.

Lacroix, T. (2014). Conceptualizing transnational engagements: a structure and agency perspective on (Hometown) transnationalism. International Migration Review, 48(3), 643–79.

Lacroix, T., Levitt, P. & Vari-Lavoisier, I. Social remittances and the changing transnational political landscape. CMS 4, 16 (2016) doi:10.1186/s40878-016-0032-0

Levitt, Peggy (1998) “Social remittances: Migration driven local-level forms of cultural diffusion” International Migration Review, Vol. 32, No. 4: 926-948

Levitt, P., & Merry, S. (2009). Vernacularization on the ground: local uses of global women’s rights in Peru, China, India and the United States. Global Networks, 9(4), 441–61.

Md Mizanur Rahman & Lian Kwen Fee (2012) Towards a Sociology of Migrant Remittances in Asia: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38:4, 689-706, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2012.659129

Norwicka M and Serbedzija (2016). Migration and Social Remittances in a Global Europe, Palgrave Macmillan, London

 




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Workshop

Directors


Nasra

M. Shah

Professor -
Kuwait University



Philippe

Fargues

Professor -
European University Institute



Françoise

De Bel-Air

Senior Researcher -
GLMM


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