Maren Borkert presents her paper 'Worldwide@home: transnational networks in the Digital Age' in Parallel session I(B) of the conference Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond, 24-26 Sept 2013
In the almost 20 years of existence transnational studies have focused on a variety of topics and social phenomena (Faist 2000, Levitt 1998, Levitt & Glick-Schiller 2004, Pries 1999 and 2010, Vertovec 2004). Different perspectives on the nexus between transnationalism and migrants networks have emerged that have, on the one hand, led to the diffusion and rapid establishment of transnationalisation as a genuine field of study and approach. On the other hand, transnational concepts have become catch-all phrases for cross-border ties and have been seen as equivalent to such different processes as globalisation, de-nationalisation, de-materialisation, virtualisation or the ‘liquidation' of social relations. While some might mourn the unspecific use of the term, others add to its uncertainty with claims regarding the far-reaching consequences of transnationalisation without providing substantial empirical evidence.
To better understand processes of transnationalisation and shed a fresh light on the emergence, ‘solidification' and breakup of migration networks, this paper explores the role that modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play in how migrants maintain exchange relationships over long distances and across nation states. Special emphasis is put on the question how virtual networks affect (offline) migration behaviour and how they impact on the countries of origin and destination. Here, the assumption that strong cross-border transnational ties result in making social contacts in residential areas/cities grow weak (Levitt 1998, Levitt & Glick-Schiller 2004, Pries 2001, 2008 and 2010), is put to the test. Empirical evidence is drawn from more than 150 questionnaires and 30 qualitative interviews conducted by bachelor students of the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna.