Georgian migrants in Germany: the impacts of social remittances on forms of inequality in the country of origin

Project coordination: Diana Bogishvil

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the declaration of independence by Georgia in 1991, the country experienced numerous political crises. The devastating economic impacts of these crises were one of the drivers of migration of large numbers of Georgians to other countries. However, the economy was not the only factor: social and individual circumstances also play a role in the decision to migrate. Migrants often support their families by sending financial transfers, known as remittances, back home. However, they also make other forms of transfer, such as values, ideas and experience. In her PhD project, Diana Bogishvili is investigating these social remittances with reference to Georgian migrants in Germany in order to identify their possible impacts on forms of social inequality in the country of origin.

In current migration research, the phrase “transnational connections” is increasingly taking the place of the term “international migration” to describe how the lifeworlds of migrants in host countries continue to intersect with those of non-migrants in the country of origin. New transnational socio-spatial relations have visible economic, political and sociocultural impacts on migrants and their families. Financial transfers, for example, have long been an important source of livelihood support for many families in the countries of origin.

Social remittances are an under-researched topic at present, and there is a consequent lack of information as to how the ideas, practices, attitudes, values, norms and beliefs which Georgian migrants encounter abroad are transferred to the home country. These social remittances may be made consciously or subconsciously. Relations between migrants and non-migrants are ever-evolving, so the formation of expectations, obligations and aspirations can be understood as an open-ended process – one which should be analysed with reference to migrants’ individual and collective traits, taking into account the social relations in the country of origin.  An accurate insight into the processes by which ideas, practices, norms, values, social capital and skills are transferred across borders enhances our understanding of how these remittances influence and, in some cases, hinder social change.