Social remittances

How migrating people drive migrating culture

Authored by: Peggy Levitt

Routledge Handbook of Immigration and Refugee Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138794313
eBook ISBN: 9781315759302
Adobe ISBN: 9781317638773


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The term ‘social remittances’ was coined in response to an over emphasis in the literature on the economic aspects of migration at the expense of its social and the cultural aspects (Levitt 2001). Too much had been written about the money that circulated between migrants and non-migrants and not enough about the ideas, practices, social capital or identities that also circulate between them. A focus on social remittances, therefore, draws attention to the relationship between migrating people and migrating culture or how culture creates the conditions under which migration, social inclusion and unbounded understandings of the nation take shape. How does culture change as it travels? What travels easily and what is blocked? In addition, how do politics, religion and family life change in response? Focusing on social remittances both gave rise to and is an integral piece of a transnational approach to migration studies.

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