The dynamics of transnational family relations and remittance flow in Ethiopia
Abstract This paper examines the dynamics of family relations among Ethiopian transnational families with particular emphasis on how the use of communication media shapes remittance flows and helps maintain family ties. The study is grounded on a survey conducted on 544 households in Gondar, a northern Ethiopian city, which has been an important source of emigrants since the late 1970s, when the country's first wave of emigration occurred as a result of war and political repression. The respondents of the survey are transnational families who maintained strong ties through the use of diverse communication methods such as telephone, email, SMS messaging, and face‐to‐face visits. The transnational social field is a space increasingly used to advance emotional well‐being and to transfer skills and knowledge at family level. The characteristics of transnational families and their ability to access new communication media determines the types of media used which in turn influences the frequency and intensity of family contact. This also explains why Ethiopian emigrants often adopt multiple media links. Migration and remittances were found to significantly improve access to new technologies by migrant households. As the results of this study show, families and communities left behind are not passive recipients of remittances but as proactive agents who co‐construct and reconstruct transnational networks. Their role in influencing the monetary and nonmonetary diaspora resource flows is also significant. This paper seeks to make a contribution to the transnational migration literature by examining how origin communities shape and influence the dynamics of these transnational social spaces.
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