Socio-Emotional Ties and the Sense of Belonging to the Destination Among Migrants

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Yue YUAN, Xi'an Jiaotong University, China
Eric FONG, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Shuzhuo LI, Xi'an Jiaotong University, China
Zhongshan YUE, Xi'an Jiaotong University, China
The relationship between spousal separation and the sense of belonging to the destination among migrants has not been well studied. Most migration studies focus on economic and social factors that facilitate or hinder the integration of migrants. Few has explored socio-emotional factors that facilitate or hinder their integration. Togetherness with spouse in the destination represents a highlight of strong social and emotional relationship. The study of togetherness with spouse and its relation to local identity opens a new avenue to understand the integration of migrants through the lens of social-emotional ties. Second, the discussion of spousal separation inevitably leads to the discussion of how the use of communication technologies, such as cellular phone or social media, to connect with others is related to the sense of belonging to the local community among migrants. The study incorporates the discussion on the use of communication technologies and its impact on the local identity formation – another topic that has largely escaped the discussion in most migration literature.

Our study, based on a survey of rural-urban migrants conducted during 2015-16 in Guangzhou, China, explores the role of strong social ties that provide emotional support, especially togetherness in marriage, in facilitating the integration process of migrants. This study found that those migrants who stay with their spouses at the destination show higher level of local identity than other migrants. Further analysis suggests that the likelihood of having local identity is sensitive to various factors for respondents with their spouses staying in the same city but not for other migrants. Implications of the study will be discussed.