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Lecture 3

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC336H1
Professor
Blumer
Semester
Spring

Description
Lecture 3: Transnational Migration   The  “Classic”  Immigrant     “Persons  who  uproot  themselves,  leave  behind  home  and  country,  and  face  the  painful   process  of  incorporation  into  a  different  society  and  culture”  (Handlin  1973[1951]  cited  in   Glick  Schiller,  Basch  &  Szanton  Blanc  1995”   • Video from last week captures the idea of the “classic” immigrant of older generation – immigrants from eastern Europe going to New York • Notion of leaving your country behind for better economic opportunities and trying to help your family back home – this also applies to what is going on today • In reading responses, people were distinguishing between what was an immigrant back then and what is a transmigrant of today • It’s not so black and white, it’s more of how the literature or research was perceived of the generation of immigrants of the past, how it perceives them today, and what research tools we develop today to understand what is going on • There is an overlap between classic immigrant and transnational migrant - these are more the ideal types • It’s important not that this describes every single person that has immigrated a generation ago, but this is how most scholars of immigration perceive the trend of immigration a generation ago • “Closing one door and opening another” – another metaphor is the “straight arrow” – this notion that you’re shot out from your country and moved to another one and never to come back • Notion that you leave your country behind and at some point over time you start to shed the old aspects of your identity and you “become” Canadian or whatever • Metaphors are helpful for understanding how immigration tended to be perceived in the past • In article by Portes, they say that this was never really the case – this notion of uprooting and leaving behind and closing doors or straight arrows – there was always some element of back and forth in the process of immigration and settlement th th • Authors explains that even immigrants from 19 to early 20 century occasionally had the opportunity to visit their homes and sometimes some of them actually did return permanently • All of this took place even though the technologies of today, like transportation and communications didn’t exist – people were still involved in some sort of back and forth, even a century ago   Transnational  Migration     “The  process  by  which  immigrants  forge  and  sustain  multi-­‐stranded  social  relations  that   link  their  societies  of  origin  and  [their  societies  of]  settlement”  (Basch,  Glick  Schiller  &   Szanton  Blanc  1994)     Conditions  of  transnational  migration:     • Regularity/  resilience  over  time   • Routine  involvement   • Critical  mass           à  all  of  which  take  place  across  borders   • Transnational migration comes from anthropologists – but has since been embedded in sociological study as well • Transnational migration involves the creation and maintenance of ties or connections between countries of origin and countries of settlement • “Link” is an important word – notion of tying together and connecting society of origin and society of settlement • But for this to count as transnationalism, the past immigrant may have also experienced some aspect of this definition – the classic immigrant may also have sustained links to their home country • Regularity/resilience over time = it’s not just something that an immigrant engages in for the first year when they’re new to the country – it’s something that goes beyond that and it lasts throughout the process of resettlement, well into being actually settled • Routine involvement = repetitive actions • Critical mass = transnational processes that include a significant proportion of people, we’re not talking about one person, but immigrants and their counterparts in the whole country • Another key thing is activities that are talking place across borders between country of origin and country of settlement • Important aspect of transnationalism has to do with globalization – because transnational activities expand or take place beyond the territorial borders, it’s logical to view transnational processes as one example of globalization • Transnational activities are triggered by dynamics of global capitalism and globalization more generally Globalization     • “A  global  system  of  production,  culture,  and  technology”  (McBride,  2005:  4)       o =  Involves  the  removal  or  reduction  of  state-­‐enforced  restrictions  and/or  the   removal  of  barriers  between  national  borders   =  Encourages  the  rapid  movement  of  capital  ($$$),  ideas,  technology,  and   goods  &  services  throughout  the  world  …  and  people…   =  These  movements  have  “global”  scope  and  impact   • Overlap between globalization and transnationalism – a sense of this movement (back and forth), this linkage between one country and another country • Notion of imperialism - powerful countries in global north that have this ability to make use of resources (human power, etc) in global south • “Rapid movement of capital, ideas, technologies and people” is most relevant when looking at the relationship between the two • Schiller et al. explanation: “transnationalism migration is triggered by: a global restructuring capital based on changing forms of capital accumulation that has lead to deteriorating social and economic conditions in both labour sending and labour receiving countries with no location or settlement” pg.50 • One big difference concerning transnationalism and globalization is that while globalization refers to activities that are removed from and occurring externally to specific national territories, these multinational corporations - although they’ll be rooted in certain countries, in a sense they’re not connected to the particular border of a country – but that becomes different when we talk about transnational processes such as transnational migration because there we‘re necessarily talking about borders, we’re talking about the importance of the nation state and the governments of the nation state • So when we talk about transnational migration or transmigrant, we’re talking about a person that is embedded in and guided into two or more agencies – they have to be responsive to the borders and to the rules and the policies of two or more nation states • Classmate wrote the following about the connection between transnational migration and the rule of national border: “the article focuses on the importance of nation building for example, through political activism by transmigrants or whole government, or through average activities by whole governments to transnational communities. Therefore theories of transnational migration take into account the persistent importance of the nation state” • What tends to happen when we talk about globalization, and one of the bigger debates is this question of whether or not the nation state and national government still have any power because there’s this idea that multinational corporations and these entities that exist beyond the borders of nation state are somehow more powerful than the national government • There’s a lot of debate about this but there’s a lot of evidence to support that the nation state is still very powerful and for people living within one country or actually embedded into two countries like transnational migrants are, we can see how in fact they’re still very dependent and have to respond to the authority of the nation state – policies, etc • When we talk about globalization, often it gets us into this territory where we’re thinking about the erosion of the nation state and the erosion of the importance of borders – when we’re talking about transnationalism, borders are even more important because we’re talking about individuals and communities who are embedded into two nation states and that means you’re responsible for responding to two sets of laws and policies and governments The  “New”  Transmigrant     “Immigrants  whose  daily  lives  depend  on  multiple  and  constant  interconnections  across   international  borders  and  whose  public  identities  are  configured  in  relationship  to  more   than  one  nation-­‐state”  (cited  in  Glick  Schiller,  Basch  &  Szanton  Blanc  1995)   • Unlike process of globalization, transmigrants remain embedded in and is connected to territorial borders and often more than one set – advantages and disadvantages that go along with this • Similar to globalization, transnational migration doesn’t only refer to movement of people but can also refer to movement of ideas, money, goods and services throughout the world • Contemporary migration is the exception and not the rule – 3% of population leaves the place of their birth to live somewhere else– even though it’s such a small proportion, there’s still reason to talk about and debate immigration • Implications are still huge even though there aren’t so many people doing it • The reality is that only a small proportion of the contemporary world migrant population is a transmigrant • When talking about transnationalism it seems as though everyone is a transmigrant – most people are not though • From small population that are immigrants, an even smaller proportion are transnational migrants – more importantly, the implications of the small percentage are quite vast • This is as a result of studies conducted on countries of origin – there’s this new found emphasis on looking at countries of origin and what happens when you have major transmigration from the same one community • Older literature tended to look only at countries of reception – like Canada, States or the western Europe – now there’s a new trend that comes out of transnational migration to focus on the impact of emigration and the impact of places and people left behind • Even though not many people are transmigrants, the impact and implications of those people that are, are very vast • Can we refer to temporary migrants as transmigrants? Transnationalism requires regularity/resilience over time and routine involvement – so when talking about temporary migrants, the emphasis is on temporary - these conditions are quite important, it’s very much about resilience over time • Definition of transnational migration does have to do with identity So,  is  transnational  migration  unique?     • Transnationalism  represents  a  new  analytic  perspective,  not  a  novel  phenomenon   (Glick  Schiller  1999)   • The  transnational  social  field  includes:                          Economic,  political,  ideological  and  socio-­‐cultural  initiatives     • Transnational  activities  may  involve:   o Regular  people  and  grassroots  organizations  à  from  ‘below’   o Powerful  actors  (e.g.  government  representatives,  multinational   corporations)  à  from  ‘above’   § See  Portes,  Guarnizo  &  Landolt  (1999)  for  discussion  of  Tsm  activities   “from  below”  vs  “from  above,”  p.  221  and  chart  on  p.  222   • As  a  focus  of  research,  transnationalism  is  mostly  concerned  with:   o Case-­‐study  approach  (qualitative  field  research)   o Activities  “from  below”     o Unit  of  analysis  is  individual  or  household/family  transmigrants   • Is transnational migration something different from 100 years ago? Or even 30-40 years ago • New approach to understanding immigration, that we have new conceptual tools and new perspectives and new forms of analysis – for example, focus on country of origin and the impact of people leaving is a new trend in research – something that 60 years ago was not really dealt with • Developments in transportation and communication technology have qualitative transformed the character of immigrant transnationalism • It’s easier to travel back home, easier to make a phone call, and it’s cheaper and sometimes free • There are qualitative and quantitative factors – we are talking about something new • There are now more dense and dynamic cross border exchanges going on than ever before • Also tal
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