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Transnationalism and migration Essay

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Updated: May 21st, 2019


Transnationalism is a contemporary phenomenon that involves migration of people from one country to another, but they retain ties with their home countries. The notion of transnationalism is “being here and there at the same time” (Cano, 2009.p. 1). Movement of people across borders has been made easy by improved modes of transport, technology, and communication. Transnationalism involves living in one country but belonging to another.

The scoop of the paper will be on the definition of transnationalism, reasons that lead migrants to become transnational migrants. The way transnationalism has changed in the 21st century and forces behind the change. Finally, on the way nations have responded to the change in migration.

Migrants to transnational migrants

Migrants move from their home country because of various reasons such as economic pursuits, hostile environments or for adventure. People who move to search for greener pastures leave families behind, and hence they remit money back home.

Such people have strong ties with the people left behind similar than those who move away from their countries because of personal reasons. They feel that they have an obligation to take care of their country even if they are away. Therefore, family obligation is a very strong factor that makes migrants become transitional migrants (Schiller & Fouron, 1999).

The sense of belonging also makes migrants to become transnational migrants. Belonging is a basic human need, and migrants often face hostility or are not welcomed in the host countries. They are often treated as intruders who come to disrupt the nation and take job opportunity from the locals.

The migrants may be discriminated against because of their different skin color. Such migrants are made to feel as if they are second class citizens. Hence, they do not belong to their host communities. On the contrary, back at home they belong, and are treated with respect for the help they offer to their families, and countries.

The respect they get from their people makes them retain ties with the home countries; hence, they are able to bear the harsh environment in the host country. Such migrants retain ties with home even if they acquire citizenship of the host countries (Schiller & Fouron, 1999).

Migrants also become transnational migrants because they hope to retire at home. Thus, it is important to maintain strong ties with family at home who will welcome the migrants once they retire. The home environment is good because the transnational migrants do not face challenges such as discrimination that many suffer in the receiving countries. In addition, with the money they make in the host country they can retire, and live comfortable lives with dignity.

They are also treated as respectable members of the home society. In some cases such as in Haiti, an immigrant had to become a transnational migrant, and show loyalty to Haiti or risk being labeled a betrayer of the nation, hence, would not retire in the country peacefully (Schiller & Fouron, 1999).

Moreover, blood ties make migrants transnational. The blood ties to the home country cannot be changed even if one acquires citizenship of another country. There is the belief that one remains a member of their home country. The blood ties also makes migrants help people back at home who may be in dire situation, and lack basic needs. If not for anything else for humanity that makes them remember people back at home (Schiller & Fouron, 1999).

Transnationalism in the 21st century and causes of change

During the 21st century, transnationalism has changed drastically, and people are no longer confined to borders rather nations have become borderless. The governments of various nations across the globe have embraced the notion that their populations do not have to be living within the territorial borders, have similar culture or share languages.

Instead, governments embrace migrants in other nations, and consider them as citizens, an integral part of the home country.

The phenomenon of globalization has not made states to fade in spite of the interconnectedness among nations, but the physical borders are not very important now, and people can still belong to their home country even if they live a few or thousands of miles away as nations embrace globalization (Schiller & Fouron, 1999).

Thus, through transnationalism migrants do not have to choose the host culture over their own as they can belong to the two (Pedraza, 2006).

Moreover, transnationalism has led to deterritorization as people change socially, culturally, and territorially, and form other group identities that lack cultural homogenous, but still remain attached to their home countries. The rise of deterritorialization has created a new market for providers of contact with the home countries.

The transitional migrants seek services of money managers to make investments in their home countries. On the other hand, the transnational migrants may find themselves in ethnic conflicts with the home country because they may lack proper information hence will be only one-sided on their imagination (Harvey, 1989).

In addition, consumption has changed in home countries as transnational migrants bring home goods from their host nations. The locals may resist them as they are seen as foreign. Such is the reality of transnationalism in the 21st century (Portes, 1999).

Besides, transnationalism has changed in the 21st century, and led to cosmopolitanisms. The movement of people from one place to another means that people carry their culture with them, and meet other people who have different cultures, hence, host nations of migrants become melting points of cultures.

People are able to exchange or welcome people to share in their cultural activities even away from home. The media has given people information, and many people take the ideal word they hear as the truth.

However, when they move to other nations the media painted as paradise they are often disillusioned. Many suffer from loneliness in faraway lands. The imagined world that migrants get from the media is very different from the reality on the ground (Harvey, 1989).

The face of migrants has changed in the 21st century, and they have a greater political participation back home. The transnational migrants have an increased mobilization, and organize events that influence their political reality in their homes countries. They are able to do that across borders (Cano, 2009).

The transnational migrants influence the politics of their home countries directly because of double citizenship. Conversely, the political participation of transnational migrants in home countries may be limited by the relationship, and policies between the receiving and sending countries (Nowosiekski, 2011).

The people of the host nations may feel threatened by the transnational migrants especially if they get elected into political positions in the receiving country. The locals feel as if they are losing control of their own to foreigners who have become naturalized ,but retain citizenship of their home countries (Portes, 1999).

Nations response to transnationalism

Nations have embraced transnationalism especially the sending ones. They have realized transnational migrants’ advantages, such as market for companies in the home country, entrepreneurial initiatives, and political representation in the host country (Portes, 1999).The governments make efforts to remain close to the immigrants because they contribute to the development of the home countries with their remittances. Governments encourage migrants to investment at home and provide them with easy means of acquiring property at home.

The governments also encourage migrants to maintain their ties with home by allowing them to hold dual citizenship (Foner, 1997). Therefore, migrants do not lose their home citizenship upon naturalization in the host country, and feel part of their home country. The dual citizenship encourages many transnational migrants to keep a relationship with their nations, and work for the good of the people back home.

The governments also encourage the people to naturalize in their host countries, and take part in political activities. The host nations have changed their policy because before they would frown upon any migrant who naturalized as it was taken as defection, and many lose their citizenship automatically. However, the sending nations now know that the migrants can help to champion their political interests through their votes, and contributions (Portes, 1999).

Furthermore, some governments such as Haiti, allow nationals who hold dual citizenship to take part in national elections such as in Colombia. The transnational migrants are given rights to seek legislative posts in their home countries for example, in Dominican Republic. The sending governments want the transnational migrants to improve their economic status in the host country to be able to remit money back home.

Other governments are keen on ensuring that the nationals in Diasporas remain in the host nations, and support those seeking asylum in a country such as the United States. The governments give reports to support that the asylum seekers were indeed tortured or suffered under repressive regimes in their home countries. For example, Guatemala has supported its nationals seeking asylum so that they can be in a position to benefit from the economic success of the migrants (Portes, 1999).


Transnationalism is a concept that is taking place in the highly globalized world of today. People migrate from one country to another easily, and are able to maintain contact with their home countries using the advanced methods of communication. Hence, they are able to live in one country and be in another even though not physically except during visits.

The ties with the home countries give the migrants a sense of identity, and belonging hence they are not willing to sever them. The transnational migrants face challenges in their host country such as discrimination loneliness that ensure they remain close to their home countries that offer a sense of hope.

Many people choose to become transnational to support their families by looking for work in other countries, and remit part of their earning s back home regularly. The host governments encourage transnationalism because of the benefits their countries get from the Diaspora who maintain ties with families left in the home countries.

Consequently, they have come up with policies to support the Diaspora so that they can continue making money abroad, and send some back home. Transnationalism will continue as the 21st century, and beyond as people are able to live in one place and be in another at the same time.


Cano, G. 2009. Transnationalism. Web. Available at: .

Foner, N., 1997. What’s New About Transnationalism? New York Immigrants Today and at the Turn of the Century. A Journal of Transnational Studies 6 (3), pp. 355-375.

Harvey, D. 1989. Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and queries for a Transnational anthropology. ” In Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization.” Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press. Ch. 3.

Nowosiekski, M. 2011. The trap of transnationalism- Polish organizations in Germany. Polish Sociological Review, (175), pp. 315-331.

Pedraza, S. 2006. Assimilation or transnationalism: Conceptual models of the immigrant experience in America. In R. Mahalingam (Ed.), Cultural psychology of immigrants (pp. 33-54). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Portes, A. 1999. Conclusion: Towards new world – the origins and effects of transnational activities, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22 (2), 463-477.

Schiller, N. G. & Fouron. E. G. 1999.Terrains of blood and nation: Haitian transnational social fields, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22 (2), pp340-366

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