Social Reproduction in Transnational Migration
The feminization of international migration has been exacerbating in the last few decades as globalization and neoliberal restructuring intensify. Women, particularly those in the developing world, increasingly have had to leave their own families to seek work in another country. Accordingly, there has been a proliferation of research which investigates women’s participation in social reproductive work across national borders (Hondagneu-Sotelo & Avila 1997).
Social reproduction refers to the maintenance of life on a daily and generational basis. Social reproductive work is typically invisible, feminized, not valued or is given little value, and not accounted for in systems of national accounting (Waring 1988). It includes “…various kinds of work – mental, manual, and emotional – aimed at providing the historically and socially, as well as biologically, defined care necessary to maintain existing life and to reproduce the next generation” (Laslett and Brenner 1989).
This session brings together empirical research papers which examine the experiences, agency, and activism of im/migrant women who are engaged in the work of social reproduction transnationally. In particular, the papers will address the following questions: What are the social, economic, political, and cultural processes which prompted these women to engage in cross-border social reproductive work? How do they accomplish social reproduction transnationally? The transmigrant women may be legal or illegalized, and include domestic workers or caregivers who come from developing countries; young women from developed countries who work in vulnerable conditions as au pairs; or skilled professionals who are deskilled in their country of settlement.