International mobility and transnational media use: Evidence from East York

Basak Bilecen, Celia Huang


Drawing on the fourth cycle of East York study interviews with 101 Torontonians, we investigate the ways in which they stay connected within and across borders. Previous research has ample evidence that international migrants have regular interpersonal contact with their family and friends who live in different nation-states, thanks to advances in telecommunication technologies. Contrary to earlier work that studied specific migrant groups from one country of origin at a time, the unique dataset of East York study enables us to study a variety of persons with different mobility histories to Toronto. We compare international migrants to those who have migrated from elsewhere in Canada, those who have moved within the greater Toronto area, and those who have stayed in place. In so doing, we have a broad, and yet, fine-grained understanding of how different mobile persons’ practice transnationality, meaning the degree of having and communicating with personal ties across borders. We ask to what extent the respondents kept in touch across borders and distances, which communication channels they used, and whether the type of tie and the respondents’ region of origin affect the maintenance of that particular tie. Contributing to communication, migration, and network studies, this paper advances knowledge by its in-depth analysis of both mobile and non-mobile Torontonians’ mode of communication, depending on the type and location of their personal ties.

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