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From Social to Intangible Remittances: A Conceptual Recalibration with Empirical Evidence from Southeast Europe

Research domain:
Livelihoods in rural areas

Project duration:
since 01.10.2018

More than 20 years ago, the concept of social remittances was developed, highlighting that migrants do not only transfer money but also ideas and practices. This moving away from the narrow focus on monetary remittances was not only a groundbreaking step towards a more comprehensive understanding of remittances. It also raised great hopes regarding the transformative potential these transfers bear, as an emerging literature has shown that migrants transfer for example ideas of liberal democracy and gender equality. Despite this enthusiasm, the literature on social remittances is still very limited, especially on the conceptional side. Not only is there no theory of social remittances, but definitions of the concept vary widely, and the determinants of social remittance transfer remain understudied.

Against this background, the project will start with a recalibration of the theoretical foundation of the concept by putting forward an enhanced definition and typology of what will henceforth be called intangible remittances. Based on this, a theoretical framework on the determinants of intangible remittance transfer will be developed.

The empirical part of the project will subsequently investigate parts of the theoretical framework with a special focus on intangible remittances transfer to rural areas, since these play a vital role as origin and destination of (return) migrants. Besides the determinants of intangible remittance transfer, the forms and transfer channels of intangible remittances will be analyzed.

The regional focus of the project is Southeast Europe. Methodologically a mixed-methods approach using primary data collected during field visits is used.