The feminization of migration and the impact on transnational social fields and incorporation on the empirical case of Mexican Migration
“Flight, Migration, Transnationalism: Contemporary Perspectives on Mobility” Wintersemester 2009, Department of Sociology, Examnumber
Labour migration favours a growing intensity of circulating movements of people, goods, information and symbols across national borders. Positively influenced by new communication technologies, infrastructure and money transfer, national borders are crossed physically and mentally in everyday life by transmigrants. Transnationalism is hence a new form of a bounded-nomadic way of living as it implicates a movement between two fixed localities (Pries 2008). In the case of the Mexican migrants, the recruitment politics of the U.S. of low-skilled and cheap labour launched unintentionally a self-sustaining migration-process between Mexico and U.S., which over the years became more diversified concerning local origins, sex and status of migrants (Massey/Goldring 1994). As transnational fields are multi-layered and multi- sited forms of interaction between individuals, families and nation-states’ practices, we have to rethink boundaries of social life - culturally and geographically (Glick 2001: 1002/3). The creation of a transnational migration networks and the formation of Mexican communities in the U.S. facilitated the situation for future migrants and set the basis for family reunification and chain migration (Massey/Goldring 1994, Espinosa 1997). Speaking of an extension of social life in the process of transnationalization means that kinship and family networks are re-constituted across national borders - simultaneously marked by gendered differences in power and status. Today, we observe the new phenomena of feminization of migration.
This has an effect on traditional values within a - before spatial and national bound - social and ethnical network. As such, taking a gendered geographies of power into account, is an enriching approach to explain and predict transnational network evolution, gendered behaviour-patterns in the process of incorporation and transnational organization. Which role does a woman take in the migration system, how does she defend her values within the family and how does she behave in the Mexican-American transnational migration system and belonging on the nation-state level in comparison to the men?
First of all, we can observe different motives, expectations and most importantly - different circumstances under which women decide to migrate to an important degree influenced by the engagement in social networks as they provide distinct constraints and opportunities (Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994, Goldring 2001). Migration across the Mexican border became “normative” and hence a self-sustaining process of moving back and forth between the home-community and specific localities in the U.S. (Kandel/Massey 2002). When migration became an integral part in the Mexican communities, cultural and family-intern behaviour changed on both sides - for migrants and non-migrants and which also affected state-practices of border-control and citizenship (Massey/Goldring 1994). On one hand women were left behind - sometimes in uncertainty and developed new self-autonomy towards their family and children and within their localities. On the other hand, the prevalence of US-migration in Mexican communities reinforced the aspiration of young people to increase socio-economic mobility through migration. This effect proved higher for young woman. While men used temporary migration as “rite of passage” female future migrants had the intention to “live” in America. Like that, migration was a chance to overcome patriarchal restrictions, reinforce their status within a marriage (Kandel/Massey 2002, Goldring/Massey 1994) and guarantee their children a better perspective. Single breadwinners often migrated with help of “female networks” (Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994).
Secondly, women play key-roles in settlement, as they engage highly in the local environment in the interest of welfare of their families. They have a long-term interest in permanent settlement and hence investment in durable goods (Massey/Goldring 1994). As such they come in touch with local state-institutions (public sphere) and adapt faster to norms and values of the new society. This behaviour is additionally explained by perceptions of advantages in the host-society which comes from their new-gained economic freedom, access to social security and support institutions for women (in the case of domestic violence, migration issues) and other benefits. Women often gain a higher degree of status and autonomy in comparison to their home-countries, which they consolidate by permanent settlement and equal labour division in the households (Mahler 1999, Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994, Goldring 2001). Their mediating role between tradition (Mexico) and modernism (USA) lead to more cooperative roles and improved their bargaining position vice versa their husbands (Pedraza 1991).
 Goldring & Massey: the constant circulation of people, goods and information, practices and values have transformative impact on the Mexican communities -> culturally transnationalized communities
 Hondagneu-Sotelo: “fatherless children”
 Here it depends how women find themselves in the host-country f.ex. some women still decide to give birth to their children within their family Mexico.