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Transnational family relationships and effect of social networks

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1515 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The study will explore the issue of transnational family relationships and return migration among British-South Asian second generation young people. It will illustrate how transnational family ties and social networks are utilized as social capital resources to facilitate these young people’s migration from Britain to the South Asia e.g. Pakistan, their parent’s country of origin. A combination of internally formed and externally imposed understandings of ethnic identity, home and belonging W2will took into consideration to find out the factors influencing these young people’s decision to migrate to Pakistan, alongside other pragmatic and practical reasons.

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Return migration by particular ethnic communities in the UK has received considerable academic attention (Bryon 2000) in recent years. Increasingly, research interest is turning towards second-generation return migration to emphasize the significance of Diaspora and social networks informing the return migration process. This Research Proposal will explore second-generation return migration to the South Asian Countries especially Pakistan and how this is facilitated by social networks and resources generated through family relationships (Reynolds 2010).

Transmigration and cultural diversity could be used interchangably. Ethnic and cultural diversity of Europe is influenced by transmigration from all over the world major proportation from Asian subcontinent (Reynolds 2010).

Immigrants are categorised to be transnational migration when they have and maintain multiple relations, individuals are participating in social relations simultaneously across different borders. The Social relations could be simply ancestral, economic, religious, educational and political (Glick Schiller et al. 1992, Stephen 2007). Transmigration could be more or less permanent between two or more countries. So such transnational migration could raise questions about individual’s identity, rights, race, class, ethnicity, and nationalism (Reynolds 2006, Reynolds 2010).

Studies suggested that transnational connections to the homeland among the first generation remain well-built over time across diverse migrant communities, but these ties are weakened with the next and successive generations (Sutton 2004). Whereas Grillo (2008) suggests the growing connotation of globalization and transnationalism in terms of generational distinction is too plain and matters are now more complex. In contemporary Europe, for instance, migrants, many of their offspring and following generations are rooted into a set of personal and social relationships which connect the individuals to place of birth, ancestral homeland and Diaspora (Christou 2006). Wessendorf’s (2007) study of return migration among second generation of Italians in Switzerland also suggests that these social and personal relationships with their ancestral homeland create a ‘third space’, which enables second generation young migrants to articulate an understanding of identity, home and belonging.

Social capital, as a theoretical concept, will help us to analyse how families represent an important resource in generating networks and relationships of trust and reciprocity across transnational fields (Reynolds 2007). Internationally various empirical studies on second generation return migration across diverse ethnic and migrant groups are investigating the significance of disapora and transnationalism in the return migration process (Levitt 2001,Wessendorf 2007; King and Christou 2008). For example, a number of studies conducted in Britain, Canada and the US explore the social and cultural adjustments, experienced by second generation return migrants (Duval 2004, Bauer and Thompson 2006 ). This descriptive study seeks to build on and complement the growing body of work on in this field primarily focussing on South Asian perspective.

Robert Putnam’s (2000; 2007) ideas concerning social capital will provide the basis for investigating how British – Pakistani young people utilize their family and social networks to make connections across geographical distance, and the extent to which these networks constitute a resource and form a kind of capital that enable individuals to eventually return.

Robert Putnam (2000) also suggests that social networks found in families are valued for binding communities and societies together. These social networks provide the basis for social cohesion, solidarity and civic participation. However reciprocal trust, social support and social connectedness, typically understood as key features of social capital; also represent important social resources within family relationships (Winter 2002; Edwards, Franklin and Holland 2003).

Ties of trust and reciprocity emerging through family relationships enable social capital to be built up over time and transmitted across generations ( Franklin 2007). Family bonds are themselves utilized as a social resource by individuals in the construction of their ethnic identity (Reynolds 2006 ).

Strong bonding ties of ethnic and cultural identity emerged in many participants’ accounts. Those young people who expressed extensive and strong ties to the Pakistan were more likely to participate in transnational family activities, such as family visits ‘home’ and the family reunion in the Pakistan (Reynolds 2006).

According to the analysis of Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) 2006 Labour Force Survey data, the countries that send the fourth highest number of migrants to the UK are Pakistan (IPPR2007). With a large settled population of Pakistani origin in the UK along with newcomers those with Pakistani heritage in Britain are among the most conspicuous of overseas origin. The first generation of Pakistani migrants to the UK mainly settled in 1960. The next group is made up of their UK born children and their spouses many of whom come from Pakistan.

Research Question

What are these young people’s understandings of their parent’s homeland?

How do they construct and position their ethnic identity in relation to these cultural and familial bonds?

How strong and extensive are these young people’s ties to their parent’s country of origin?

Does the second generation have any expectation or intention of return migration to the Pakistan?


Social and cultural anthropologists have a longer practice of sustained interaction with the research participants in their natural settings in order to investigate the social world. Using the same practise of Anthropologist, In-depth qualitative data will be collected from second generation living in UK and returnees to the Pakistan. Data would be generated through unstructured and semi-structured interviews along with the observational methods.

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In depth Interviews with a qualitative sample of second generation living in UK and who migrated to Pakistan will reflect on how these young people manage their adjustment and settlements at both places. The aim of this research approach is to examine the participants in their natural settings at the same time allowing their voices to come to the fore in narrating their own stories. Research finding will focus the views of second generation young people in Britain with strong family ties to the Pakistan. The main focus of debate is the small but distinct group of young people that decided to leave England and migrate to the Pakistan. Finally the analysis would calculate the young people’s motivation for return migration, including the social context in Britain.

The sample criteria

Only those respondents would be included in research project from UK who had family members living in the Pakistan and they had visited the Pakistan within the past five years. From Pakistan those will be selected who has migrated from UK to Pakistan, respondents would be easier to find from Gujrat, Jehlum and Mir Pur Districts. Given the specific nature of the research criteria, access to the research sample will be achieved through a ‘snowballing’ method (Gilbert 1994).

Data analysis

Qualitative research design would be used in order to understand the phenomenon in depth. The analysis of the data involves young people’s understandings of their parent’s homeland in trems of their ethnic identity in relation to these cultural and familial bonds. Analysis of data would also focus on young people’s ties to their parent’s country of origin. Those who are living in UK would be intrusive to get their expectation or intention of return migration to the Pakistan?

Time Frame

Time required for the following research activities:-

Literature review 5 months

Research design 4 months

Data collection 10 months

Data analysis 9 months

Report writing 8 months


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