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Mapping social remittances

Paolo Boccagni, Francesca Decimo


The notion of social remittances has gained a central position, discursively at least, in the literature on the effects of emigration on home societies. In this editorial we briefly review the strengths and limitations that this concept has displayed, since its early coinage in transnational migration studies. More of-ten than not, social remittances have been treated in the literature in a peripheral vein, ancillary to different foci of research. This Migration Letters special issue aims to move the debate on the theme beyond this unsatisfactory state of things. More specifically, we argue for four lines of research on social remittances to be further developed: the tensions between individualization and home-society based obligations and pressures, which shape the development and circulation of social remittances; the need to explore the embeddedness of economic remittances within a broader range of socio-cultural remittances (rather than vice versa); the interfaces between the categories of social remittances and social capital; the complex ways in which physical and social distance between senders and recipients affects the circulation of social remittances, as well as their impact on migrants' communities of origin.


Social remittances; individualization; economic remittances; social capital; transnationalism; case studies

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