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Medial Dimensions of the Production and Representation of Transnational Family and Supply Arrangements

Adjoint project of the Department of Sociology (Prof. Heike Greschke, Prof. Andreas Langenohl)

This project examines the importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the establishment, maintenance and representation of transnational families as well as their care arrangements.

 

The conceptual starting point is based on the assumption that not only daily life, social relations as well as practices are increasingly mediatized, but also the inverse media are increasingly socialized in everyday life. This hypothesis stems from the observation of media as instruments of social life organization. How this happens and what the results following are is called the “Techno-Social Hybridization” by Greschke. This process taking place within the context of transnational migration must be investigated in the project. The focus is on the correlation between communicative, physical, and social mobility in the transnational context. In order for this to be examined, an explorative field study has been started to work with the example of Polish circular migrants who work in private households in Frankfurt am Main as caretakers and yet simultaneously realize and administer their parental responsibilities to their families at home. The following questions are the focus of the study:

a) What kinds of information and communication technologies are used for the organization of family and working life in transnational family and care settings and how? How is the access to these technologies distributed and what social structure implications does this distribution have in terms of the roles within families; specifically, tasks and power distribution, gender relations, parent-child relationships or the relationship between migrants (in this case,the workers) and the majority (here, the employers)?

b) How are transnational families represented in media discourses and how does this differ from their own sense of self (self-perception) and personal practices? In which ways do families (members of families) refer to certain discourses in Poland and/or Germany, to determine their roles? How, as they occur under the threshold of political-media public, can familial “tiny publics’’ (Fine/Harrington, 2004), which show the transnational and practical implications of national public debate, be established, and in turn, can they then be the reference point of journalistic debates; for example, through interviews?

c)  In which ways are the relationships between mothers and fathers and their children changing when "digitization" of the transnational family life increases? What forms of sociality and intimacy emerge in families in which both electronically mediated and physical presence equally belong to normality? How is trust and loyalty between family members secured? What happens when social conventions, as well as communication styles and types change?