Communication patterns within transnational social fields

Adelina Stoica, Gabriel-Marian Hancean


In this oral communication, we draw on personal network data and socio-demographic information collected after having conducted ethnographic research and face to face interviews with 303 Romanian migrants in Spain (Castellón) and their relatives and friends in their sending community (Romania, Dâmbovița). By interconnecting personal networks, we were able to construct a transnational social field (TSF), a network of networks, with a complex multi-layered structure of 4,855 nodes, 5,477 directed ties (nominations) and 2,540 edges. In this TSF, we looked at the communication flows (patterns) between and within two sites (place of origin and destination). Specifically, we observed and measured the frequency of communication the migrants, non-migrants and returnees engaged in with their family, close friends and acquaintances. We examined whether communication intensity is influenced by the perceived emotional closeness. Moreover, we conducted an exploratory investigation on the possible impact the communication patterns displayed in the TSF upon the respondents’ behavior. Precisely, by employing spatial autoregressive models, we assessed the effect of communication patterns and other predictors (number of nominations, the ability to speak a foreign language, gender, age, education) on individuals’ intention to change their country of residence, i.e. decision to migrate to other countries or return to the origin places. Results seem to indicate a statistically non-significant effect of communication on the residence change. In addition, we provide evidence that communication intensity is heavily affected by geographical proximity as well as by the strength of the ties (measured as perceived emotional closeness). Our work contributes to the recently witnessed efforts of employing network analysis into the study of migration. At the same time, our preliminary results are relevant for the on-going debate over the pivotal role played by migration networks in such processes as the circulation of social remittances (diffusion of ideas from destination to origin, and vice-versa, and its potential impact upon individuals’ behavior).

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