Peggy Levitt “Social Remittances: Migration Driven Local-Level Forms of Cultural Diffusion”

As echoed by Stoller and McConatha, Levitt writes on binational societies that form when immigrants bring their former home life to their current host life. The word used to describe these transfers is social remittance. Developing out of this flow of practices, identities and social capital from the host nation to home country communities leading to a transnational public sphere.

Unlike in previous times, ties between the two nations are easily maintained through the process of globalization including advancements in technology and telecommunications. Levitt posits to 5 factors that strengthen and sustain these transnational ties:

  1. ease of travel and communication;
  2. important role migrants play in the economies of their home nations;
  3. legitimization attempts by home nations in supporting migrants and there families;
  4. importance of host nations in the politics and economics of home nations;
  5. marginalization of migrants in their host nation.

If ties to home nations are severed, the transnational public sphere will fall apart.

Levitt presented the case of the United States/Dominican Republic (DR) community. Because of their close proximity, it is relatively easy and affordable to travel between the two countries and the quality telecommunications structures allow migrants to connect with family through telephone calls. Through the ease of free flowing social remittance transfers, the American culture can already bee seen in the DR. America has also been involved in the public and economic affairs of the islands for years, also raising the intensity of social remittance.  Immigrants to the DR hold strongly to their home nationalities and cultures, creating a strong social remittance transfer.

During these transfers, normative structures, systems of practice and social capital are exchanged between the two nations. In order for remittances to be successfully transmitted, they must be broken down, or compressed, which can lead to misinformation and confusion, as in the case of values and norms, which are interregnal belief systems that are sometimes lost in translation, and become weak remittances.

There are pros and cons to this process of remittance, a major positive outcome has been the constructive change brought about in the political and legal domains in the home nations; immigrants communicate back to their families and former compatriots, their high opinion of the fair systems experienced in the US, which in turn can provide the catalyst for that nations reformation of the political and judicial systems.

I certainly have a deeper understanding of the power of globalization and how its has had a major impact on the ways in the which the world operates and communicates and has even influenced social reform.

Saskia Sassen “Whose City Is It? Globalization and the Formation of New Claims”

The way in which cities are ‘claimed” has shifted over the years as a result of globalization. As the globalized world becomes smaller, cities become multicultural as the globalization process opens cities up to new and varied groups. With major advancements in telecommunications and technology and a shift to services, cities have globalized and have become the major service centers for international finance, investment and headquarters. Sassan argues that  global cities have become strategic production sites for the major economic sectors from all nations. As cities become transnational, so too do the inhabitants. An influx in Immigration to globalized cities has created a densely populated, multicultural city center.

The city dynamics, including the way in which people are linked to space and how they occupy it, has changed. As cities globalize, so do the links and interactions with the larger community; the global community. Time and distance to communicate is shrinking. Also diminishing is the notion of singular national identities in favor of a transnational community identify. Transnational communities are connecting a vast majority of the world to one another.   

As the economy becomes globalized, Sassen argues that place no longer matters but instead what matters is the worker transmitting information globally and the infrastructure required to do become a global entity. A new form of agglomeration is born out of the geographic dispersal facilitated by telecommunication advancements. The increase in transnational servicing networks has brought lesser developed cities such as Buenos Aires, Taipei and Mexico City, into the global economic class with Tokyo, London, New York, Paris and  Hong Kong. These newer global cities become disconnected from their home regions and instead develop relations with other members of the growing transnational economy, resulting in a demographic shift toward more women, specifically African Americans and immigrants, joining the transnational urban workforce.

As the growing transnational economy raises the profile of these less developed countries it has also lowered the profile of former major metropolitan business sectors and well developed countries. Increased immigration as result of globalization has created multicultural cities. The dominant culture, represented by the corporate power elite, still identifies these differences in ethnicity as  “otherness”. The members of the growing international professional class, the “others”, are marginalized as low wage, manual and service workers. These areas then become areas of marginality with inited resources where low skilled workers, earn low income. The devalorization of the marginalized group and the overvalorization of cooperate powerful perpetuate class differences and further disenfranchise large segments of society, creating conflict who in turn practice urban political violence to have their voices heard.

Less control by the government of these globalize our cities has brought into question the capacity of both public and private sector to maintain these processes including location, resources and telecommunication infrastructure. This raises the notion of the declining significant of the state as we see an increase in the significance of transnational politics. The financial, investment and service sectors are claiming cities and the way in which they are utilized as well as the way in which they progress or decline. The new city landscape is becoming an international business sector where the “others” struggle to reap the benefits (if any) from the globalized economy. What will a transnational world look like? Will one day every nation be a “melting pot” managed by the business sector? Will corporate politics overtly run the state political systems?

Paul Stoller and Jasmin Tahmaseb McConatha “City Life: West African Communities in New York”

Globalize cities have created an intermingling of cultures from the home city as well as the host city, forming a transnational community. Unlike the ethnic enclaves of the past, transnational communities are an amalgamation of multiple cultures. These communities begin to form around nationalities, religion, and general kinship which help immigrants, who often feel alienated and lonely, adjust to their new homeland. Being in a new country and not having the support of family can have psychological ramifications for the isolated immigrants. The West African immigrant men in New York City were no different. In researching this group, Stoller and McConatha found that these men experience higher levels of distrust, feelings of anxiety and lack of spousal companionship. To counteract these negative effects, regardless of the living conditions in which these immigrants had to live,  some chose to stay in deplorable conditions because of the fellowship that was present.

The West African network ties in New York City are very strong, from landlords that will work with tenants who may not be financially stable to the taxi drivers that will shuttle newly arrived immigrants to higher quality SROs. The Islamic network ties are also a strong mechanism for support in that its practice centers on fellowship and cooperative economics, providing them with a sense of identity and through its discipline and values, has made them strong and able to cope with the loneliness and social isolation they experience.

Stoller and McConatha found that the West African communities in New York developed formal associations around various African nationalities which support West African immigrants economically and socially. Although the class differences established in their home countries have also infiltrated the communities in their host country,  for the most part the West African immigrants find support and comfort from the transnational communities in which they have settled. The researchers found evidence that some West African immigrants were more successful than others. They attribute these differences to competencies, including language competency as well as cultural competency, among the immigrants and those with higher competencies in these areas proved more successful in business as well as in personal matters.