Transnational families: Theorising migration, emotions and belonging

Zlatko Skrbis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


The transnational family is a symptom of our increasingly globalised lives, which take place across borders and boundaries, thereby eroding the possibilities that places of birth, life and dying will coincide. The idea of transnational family implies dynamics, flux and change, yet it is also embedded in unyielding and stable structures that impact upon the experiences of family members. These structures are represented by the institutions of the host society, the restrictions imposed by geography, international politics and law, technologies that enable communication and travel and the strength of ties with family members back home or in other places. This paper provides a backdrop for discussions on the transnational family by interrelating three key dimensions of the transnational family experience: migration, emotions and belonging. It begins by drawing on the earliest systematic account of this conceptual triad, represented by Thomas and Znaniecki s seminal study The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918/1974). The argument proceeds by outlining the ways in which emotions have been co-opted into existing studies of transnational family life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231 - 246
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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