Transnational Families

11-ms march 19,19 (5)This research theme focuses on how families operate across borders: the ties that are maintained, forged and transformed, the changes in social customs that this engenders and what effects it has for migrants as well as the people who stay in the country of origin. It investigates the social relationships that underlie the sending and receiving of remittances by including the non-monetary, socio-cultural effects of migration. A key characteristic is the use of transnational networks as the unit of analysis, giving equal emphasis to migrants and the people they are tied to, forming a transnational network.

Key research areas: Transnational families; emotional, health and educational consequences of parental migration; effects of migration on family formation and separation practices; the role of transnational networks and families in transit migration; adoptive families and the perception of international adoption in destination and origin countries; private international, family, Islamic and criminal law.

Research Theme LeaderProf. dr. Valentina Mazzucato (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences – Technology & Society Studies)


Research projects

  • Mobility trajectories of young lives: Life chances of transnational youths in Global South  and North (2016-2021). For millions of young people around the world migration is part of their biographies. Yet we know very little about their mobility throughout their young lives because we’ve focused on just two types of moves: their first move to a new country of residence, or their parents’ migration. Prof. Mazzucato will explore the mobility patterns of youth with migrant backgrounds and how mobility affects youth’s life chances.
  • Mobile children: the effects of migration on children who circulate (2014-2016). This project investigates the effects of circulation on children’s lives according to a) the children’s own perceptions; b) parents’ perceptions, and; c) school assessments. The focus falls on effects relating to educational and emotional well being outcomes. As a multi-sited project, it will follow children between The Netherlands and an African country.
  • Good Governance in International Child Transfer (2014-2016). This project investigates the cultural, legal, economic and political factors that sustain the diverging interpretations of fundamental concepts in sending and receiving countries, in order to prepare the ground for more effective legal rules for combating international child trafficking.
  • Circulating ‘Origin’ Stories: Towards A Transnational Adoptive Field between China and Spain (2014-2016). This project examines the pre and post-adoption perspectives of the adoptive triad stretching between China (the world’s leading donor of children for adoption) and Spain (Europe’s leading recipient). Combining tools from narratology and ethnography, it reveals submerged scripts on the weaving of family that are disseminated by adoptive origin stories in order to explicate the kinship values they imply.
  • Effects of Transnational Child Raising Arrangements on Life-Chances of Children, Migrant Parents and Caregivers between Africa and Europe (TCRAf-EU, TCRA and TCRA-SAN) (2010-2014). These projects investigate Transnational Child Raising Arrangements by focusing on all actors involved (immigrant parents abroad, children and their caregivers in African origin countries) and on the institutions that affect or are affected by these arrangements.
  • Family Life & International Migration: How Ghanaian Families get Formed, Transformed, or Dissolved in the Context of International Migration. This project investigates differences between transnational, reunified, and unified families. Additionally, how family formation and dissolution patterns, such as marriage, fertility, and divorce, evolve in the context of international migration and provide interesting and necessary research questions. It uses retrospective biographic data on non-migrants, returnees, and migrant spouses in the country of origin, Ghana, and on current migrants in two receiving countries, the Netherlands and the UK.
  • Trial by Transit: Exploring Transnational Personal Social Networks of Sub-Saharan Migrants in Ukraine. This project investigates how migrants create, maintain and use their transnational social networks in order to develop survival strategies and mobility in a transit setting. The study is based on data collected among male sub-Saharan Africans in Ukraine and members of their transnational personal social networks in Cameroon with the help of qualitative (ethnographic case studies, in-depth interviews, participatory observations) and quantitative methods (social network study).
  • The Effect of Transnational Family Life on Angolan and Nigerian Migrant Parents’ Life-Chances in the Netherlands. This project investigates the effects of transnational child-raising arrangements (TCRAs) on the life-chances (health, emotional wellbeing and labour market participation) of migrant parents. It uses survey data collected amongst 300 Nigerian and 300 Angolan migrant parents in the Netherlands. To assess if TCRAs have an effect on the life-chances of migrant parents, the study compares two groups of migrant parents, of which half has at least one child in the country of origin and the other half lives with all their children in the Netherlands.
  • Transnational Child Raising Arrangements between Ghana and the Netherlands: Gender, Social Parenting Norms and Migration Policies in Shaping Everyday Lived Experiences of Migrant Parents and Stay Behind Children. This project examines how parents and children experience the geographical separation from each other and how filial bonds are maintained and forged towards each other. It pays particular attention to the way Dutch migration policies, which have made it increasingly difficult to obtain a long-term residence permit and to meet requirements to reunify with children in the Netherlands, shape experiences of migrant parents, the way they forge and maintain relationships with their children, and the way they negotiate care responsibilities with the caregiver.
  • Transforming Transnational Social Networks in Transit: the Impact on Migration Processes of Africans in Turkey and Greece. This project studies the creation and maintenance of networks, and their role in the migration process. It assumes that critical events taking place in the socio-institutional context in which migrants shape their migration processes, incite constant (re) construction of social networks, through which periods of loss and accumulation of social capital continuously alternate, affecting the way migration processes develop. The project uses data from a longitudinal ethnographic field study collected between 2009/2012 – 2013 among irregular African migrants residing in the transit contexts of Istanbul and Athens.
  • Study on Children and Elderly left behind in Moldova and Georgia (2010-2013). Funded by the European Commission as part of a larger research programme investigating EU cooperation with third countries in the realm of migration and asylum, the study on the effects of migration on children and the elderly left behind assesses the impact recent wide-scale migration has had on some of Moldova and Georgia’s most vulnerable groups. This study provides a comprehensive overview of the conditions of children and the elderly who have been abandoned by migrating caretakers. The study assesses the economic, psychological, social, and institutional effects of migration on family members left behind and suggests ways in which states can mitigate the negative effects of migration via the formulation of more responsive and responsible social/social protection policies. The study is carried out in conjunction with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Germany) and the International Centre for Social Research and Policy Analysis (Georgia) with support from the International Organisation for Migration mission in Chisinau, Moldova.
  • The Psychosocial Health of Children ‘Left Behind’ by Migrant Kin in Moldova and Georgia (2010-2015)This project examines the relationship between different forms of kin migration (that of a mother, father, grandparent, or other member of co-resident family) and child psychosocial health outcomes are modelled using household survey data collected in Moldova and Georgia.
  • Marital Captivity; Bridging the Gap between Religion and Law (2014-2019). This project aims at mapping the issues of marital captivity in the Netherlands and looks at the required legal policy to be developed. All issues are looked upon from an (inter) national legal, IPR and comparative point of view. Four social partners, being the foundation Femmes for Freedom, the Proefprocessenfonds Clara Wichmann, Atria (knowledge institute for emancipation and women’s history) and the Association for Women and Justice, will work together. The research consists of four separate projects for which three researchers will be appointed.

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