Conceptualisation of transnational remittances as social capital (re)production : The case of the Somali diaspora in Finland

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Title: Conceptualisation of transnational remittances as social capital (re)production : The case of the Somali diaspora in Finland
Author: Gorchakova, Nadezda
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för politik och ekonomi
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2012
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Economic and Social History
Talous- ja sosiaalihistoria
Ekonomisk och social historia
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to explore the economic dimension of transnational engagement of the Somali diaspora living in Finland. It is suggested that the social aspect of transnational economic engagement constitutes a major force in creating and reproducing remittance practices as well as the internal diaspora structures. Another objective of this study was to show how the theory of social capital can be effectively utilized in the studies of transnational economic activities. Accordingly, the view of remittances as an act of investment in social networks, which, as a value-laden action, facilitates the perpetual process of social capital (re)production is proposed. It is further argued that social class should be considered in conjunction with gender and ethnicity as factors that lie at the centre of the cycle of capital reproduction. The empirical data was collected by means of semi-structured interviews. The target group can be described as educated and well integrated into the Finnish labour market Somalis that are living in Helsinki and its surrounding areas. With the purpose of enhancing the empirical analysis, two expert interviews were conducted. Both information in printed and online media and the snowballing method were used in order to draw the participants for this study. The research findings revealed how transnational diaspora ties are articulated and enacted in the view of social capital (re)production and remittance practices. The politicized issue of transnational diasporic activities constitute one of the dimensions that shape the way how the subjects in this research relate to diasporic social networks. The perceived dominant role of Somali women in managing transnational support systems called attention to the gendered aspect of social capital. Interestingly, the widespread perception of the scale of women’s participation in remittance practices runs contrary to the existing statistics. Another crucial observation was that not all social ties are ‘mobilisable’, or can be draw upon at any time. In conclusion, it is advocated that more in-depth research on the gender aspect of remittance practices as well as on the nature of the differences between refugee and labour remittances, particularly in terms of social relations that determine them, could significantly enhance the understanding of the topic in question.

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