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.

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