Increasing interconnections between nation-states across borders have made the transnational perspective a key tool for understanding our world.
Transnational Migration provides an accessible yet rigorous overview of cross-border migration from a transnational perspective, as experienced by family and kinship groups, networks of entrepreneurs, diasporas, and immigrant associations – and as regulated by states.
We define the core concepts of transnationalization, transnational social spaces and transnationality, In particular, transnationality connotes the social practices of agents – individuals, groups, communities and organizations – across the borders of nation-states. The term denotes a spectrum of cross-border ties in various spheres of social life – familial, socio-cultural, economic and political – ranging from travel, through sending financial remittances, to exchanging ideas.
Seen in this way, agents’ transnational ties constitute a marker of heterogeneity, akin to other heterogeneities, such as age, gender, citizenship, sexual orientation, cultural preferences and language use.
In short, transnational ties can be understood as occupying a continuum from low to high – that is, from very few and short-lived ties to those that are multiple and dense and continuous over time.
For example, migrants may remit varying sums of money or none at all. This is also to say that, for our purposes, migrants and non-migrants should not be considered simply as transnational or not, but as being transnational to different degrees.
Transnationality is characterized by transactions of varying degrees of intensity and at various stages of the life course; it is not restricted to geographical mobility. For example, non-mobile family members of migrants may engage in transnational practices.
Based on this typology of the transnational, we describe everyday transnational life, explore the implications for immigrant incorporation, and take a fresh look at issues of membership and citizenship. By examining the political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of transnational migration, we seek to capture the distinctive features of the new immigrant communities that have reshaped the ethno-cultural mix of receiving nations, including the US and Western Europe.
We give equal importance to examining the effects of transnationality on regions of migrants’ origin, viewing migrants as agents of political and economic development.
In doing so, we aim to balance theoretical discussion with relevant examples and cases, making it an ideal book for upper-level students working on immigration and transnational relations, in sociology, political science, and globalization courses.
Thomas Faist is professor of transnational, development and migration studies at the Bielefeld University, Germany.
Margit Fauser is a researcher in the department of sociology at Bielefeld University, Germany.
Eveline Reisenauer is a researcher in the department of sociology at Bielefeld University, Germany.