Tell me how mobile your family and friends are, and I will tell you how mobile you are. The case of Romanians in transnational social field between Castellón and Dâmboviţa

Renáta Hosnedlová, Ignacio Fradejas-García, Miranda J. Lubbers, José Luis Molina


A growing body of research into the networked character of migration and mobility has stressed that most migrants tend to know people in the country of destination even before they arrive, and that these network members give them important support upon arrival. However, most of this research samples “on the dependent variable”, namely migrants in a given destination country, artificially separating them from the people who never migrated and those who decided to return. We argue that we can obtain a deeper understanding of the role of social networks in transnational migration and (im)mobility by examining these groups jointly. In this proposal, we therefore analyze the role of social networks for the migration and mobility of individuals in a transnational social field connecting a community of origin (Dâmbovița in Romania) with a community of destination (Castellón de la Plana in Spain). Specifically, we ask the following question: In what ways are the relationship role and the current/past migration experience of network members related to individuals’ own trajectories within the transnational social field that spans these two locations? Furthermore, we analyze whether the structural position of the individual in the transnational social field influences international mobility. We use data from the ongoing research project “The Role of Social Transnational Fields in the Emergence, Maintenance and Decay of Ethnic and Demographic Enclaves” (ORBITS) (MINECO-FEDER-CSO2015-68687-P). This project adopted an original mixed-methods, multi-sited fieldwork methodology, in which both migrants in Castellón de la Plana and non-migrants and returnees in Dâmbovița were sampled through an RDS-like binational link-tracing design. In total, 303 interviews were held in 2018. In the interviews, respondents were asked about their own migration trajectories and their personal networks were elicited (with an average size of 18 members). For our analysis, we first conceptualized and developed an international mobility scale on the basis of respondent’s migration status (migrant, returnee, or non-migrants), the frequency of transnational visits, and intention / failed attempts to move. Second, we developed a typology of personal network composition based on the interplay of six alter variables (% of transnational family, % of transnational friendship and others, % of ties with current and/previous migration experience; % of ties within transnational social field, average emotional proximity of transnational ties with ego; average emotional proximity of local ties with ego). Third, we examine the relation between personal network composition and mobility patterns using non-parametric Kruskal–Wallis test. Moreover, we apply the measures of broker and EgoBetweenness in order to see whether the type of the personal network is associated to its structural position in transnational social field. Our results reveal three important findings: 1. Migratory capital is associated with high mobility patterns, but at the same time the connection to non-mobile core is necessary; 2. (Im)mobility is strongly related to the composition of personal network, which is in turn linked to structure of transnational social field; 3. High proportion of connections outside the transnational social field reduces the mobility.

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