Guilty feelings and the guilt trip: Emotions and motivation in migration and transnational caregiving

Loretta Baldassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores experience of 'guilt' as a motivating emotion in the migrant process. Data are drawn from two major research projects with a focus on Italian transnational families comprising adult migrant children living in Australia and their ageing parents in Italy. Findings confirm Baumeister et al.'s (1994) three broad functions of guilt as relationship-enhancing; a tool for exerting influence over others; and a mechanism for alleviating inequities in relationships. The analysis extends this social relational understanding of guilt by locating it within the broader context of cultural processes to argue that a moral obligation to return is implicit in the migration process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number356
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotions
  • Guilt
  • Migration
  • Obligation
  • Transnational caregiving
  • Transnational families

Cite this