The financialisation of transnational family care: a study of UK-based senders of remittances to Ghana and Nigeria

Yeates, Nicola and Owusu-Sekyere, Freda (2019). The financialisation of transnational family care: a study of UK-based senders of remittances to Ghana and Nigeria. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 35(2) pp. 137–156.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21699763.2019.1593879

Abstract

Transnational families occupy centre-stage in literatures on transformations in the social organisation and relations of care and welfare because they express how social bonds are sustained despite geographical separation. This paper examines some key themes arising from a research study into remittance-sending practices of UK-based Ghanaians and Nigerians in the light of research literatures on transnational family care and development finance. The data comprises qualitative interviews with 20 UK-based Ghanaian and Nigerian people who regularly send remittances to their families ‘back home’. This paper discusses a social issue that arises from the transnationalisation of family structures and relations, when migrant family members are positioned within family networks as ‘absent providers’, and familial relations eventually become financialised. The findings show the complexities of transnational living, the hardships endured by remittance-senders and the particular strains of remittance-mediated family relationships. The financialisation of family relations affects the social subjectivity and positioning of remittance-senders within the family. Strain and privation are integral to participants’ experiences of transnational family life, while themes of deception, betrayal, and expatriation also feature. The suppression of emotion is a feature of the significant labour inputs participants make in sustaining relationships within transnational families. The paper considers UK social policy implications of the findings.

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