Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Transnational Caregiving: Part 2, Caring for Family Relations across Nations

Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Transnational Caregiving: Part 2, Caring for Family Relations across Nations

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: Part 1 appeared in Care Management Journals, 12(2), 2011.

For transnationals, the community is crucial to sustaining the links and ties to the home country and the value of extended social networks both at home and the host country. Many transnationals rely on these relationships to commune with their kin in their native land to intervene on their behalf. For the transnationals who value their independence, they are forced to forego their self-reliance by having to rely on social capital. Although some may see this as a negative aspect for the transnational in certain cultures such as in the Caribbean countries, reciprocal relationships are a part of the culture. The community is presented in the context of "upbringing" and the role it plays in defining the "values, attitudes, and behavior." The fact that many in this group return to their homeland or have the intention might be the motivation for maintaining these strong ties (Reynolds, Zotini, & London South Bank University. Families & Social Capital ESRC Research Group, 2006).

However, the community is not only defined by social networks in the home country but also the collective shared and lived memories of those in the host countries. Drawing on the research on transnational New Zealanders in London, many of whom seek out their expatriate country folk to maintain connections, they also engage in interacting with different members of the diaspora to share and draw on their lived experiences of home and host countries (Mau, Mewes, & Zimmermann, 2008).

The collective experience of "community" may, to some, be a question of avoidance as they wrestle with their "identity." Their notions of home may be an idealistic and nostalgic representation of the past and offering a utopian future, presenting them with the dilemma that they themselves cannot return home. They are confronted with the notion of "difference." This is poignantly demonstrated in the documentary, Neither Milk nor Yogurt (Jain, 2005), where an older adult widow from India decides to return to her village in India after 40 years in the United States; however, she soon realizes her exposure to America no longer enables her to identify with her community in India and she has become the "other."

Although some transnationals seek out their countrymen to maintain their links to home, others make conscious efforts to avoid such ethnic centric groups, primarily because they have forged their own identity, that of the global citizen. It is here that we need to discuss the role of immigration because not all immigrants have the luxury of being able to shuttle between home and host.


The circumstances under which individuals migrate determine their transnational ties to their home country, depending on their political, social, or economic status. Motivation for emigration is based on two underlying drivers. One, as in the case of the labor immigrants after World War II, is to make a better life for their families. The other motivations for emigration are individual lifestyle mobility and career opportunities. The latter group of immigrants may be better educated and come from middle-class families and may provide reverse financial aid to their immigrant families (Foner, 2000).

However, the status of immigrants impacts their mobility of travel between their home and host countries. Those that are the victims of wars, persecutions, natural disasters, and are provided refugee status are restricted in their interactions with their families overseas. For instance, in terms of family members visiting their kin in the host countries, there are discriminatory policies and bilateral agreements that affect the length of stay of family members. For those who have sought political asylum and refugees considered at risk for "over staying countries," the visa restrictions are more severe, such as the Bosnians in Australia who cannot visit their home country and whose parents are prevented from visiting. …

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