Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


TRANS-NET Report Summary

Project ID: 217226
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Finland

Final Report Summary - TRANS-NET (Transnationalisation, Migration and Transformation: Multi-Level Analysis of Migrant Transnationalism (TRANS-NET))

Executive Summary:
The aim of the TRANS-NET project was to clarify and compare the complex and multi-level processes of migrant transnationalism in four transnational spaces: Estonia-Finland, India-UK, Morocco-France and Turkey-Germany. It was asked, how migrants' activities across national borders emerge, function and change, and what are their implications for policymaking. Equal attention was paid to the question about how border-crossing migration and other transnational processes are viewed from the perspectives of sending and receiving societies. The research showed that not just working and educational contexts but also people's political activities and social support practices are increasingly transnational. In particular, familial and economic ties revealed an expanded or even world-wide field. The current nature of migrant transnationalism is the result of an interplay of various historical, political, economic, and cultural factors. For instance, the extensive overseas mobility between India and the UK is based on the long-standing colonial connections. A parallel example of colonial background is the case of Morocco-France, while the Turkish-German case is an example of an established transnational field in which labour migration ('guest-workers') has a vital role to play. Finally, the Estonian-Finnish space represents an emerging transnational space where human movement was for a long time prevented by the iron Curtain. In all cases, but particularly in the cases of Morocco-France and India-UK, it became evident that the transnational spaces are decidedly asymmetric. In all migrants receiving countries, both immigration rules as well as integration policies have increasingly been related to what is deemed to serve the national interests. While professional and highly skilled migrants are welcomed as vital in the reproduction of workforce, asylum seekers and refugees have been seen as a threat to the countries' economy and national security. It was noted that there are major circuits in people's cross-border mobility; students and skilled migrants especially have adopted highly mobile and transnational lifestyles. It was also acknowledged that the extent and intensity of transnational activities changes during the migrants' life- course. Thus, conceiving of transnational migrants in static categories is failing to appreciate dynamism through the life-course transitions, inter-generational shifts and the changing labour market conditions. Not only migratory strategies but also the motivations for departure are in transformation. Economic motivations to migrate remain important, but after achieving a satisfactory standard of living, the departure is often motivated by a search for a possibility to enjoy a comfortable way of life ('life-style seekers', pensioners, e.g.). Although many nation-states portray migrants' transnational ties as threats to social cohesion, it was noted that migrants' transnational ties do not hinder their 'emplacement': transnational and diasporic activities can even be an important form of social engagement in the host country. It was yet found that the question of national identity was met with ambivalence and indifference. The research revealed the vital role of transnational economic networks and border-crossing mobility of labour in the emergence of transnational spaces. This became evident, in particular, in the cases of Turkey-Germany and Estonia-Finland. However, the opportunity structures appeared to be very different in each end of the migration axis. In many destination countries, even skilled migrants are discriminated against in the labour market due to the poor recognition of overseas educational qualifications. Self-employment is an important source of income for many transnational migrants. While other migrants are perceived as a potential market for those immigrants who have created small businesses, in other cases, an enterprise in a migrants sending country may be considered as a first step towards wider international markets. It was found that although, in 'old' migrant sending countries (India, Morocco, Turkey) the transfer of financial and material remittances plays a vital role, remittances tend not to be channeled towards 'productive consumption' in the local communities.

Project Context and Objectives:
This three-year research project, TRANS-NET, conducted 2008-2011, focused on the complex phenomena surrounding transnational mobility of people. The main research question was: How do people's activities across national borders emerge, function, and change, and how are they related to the processes of governance in increasingly complex and interconnected world? Four representative cases were scrutinized in detail: the transnational spaces of Estonia-Finland, India-UK, Morocco-France, and Turkey-Germany. In the Indian case, it became evident that India as a whole is much too large and diverse for a qualitative analysis. Thus it was agreed that the project will focus solely on the Punjab in order to study the largest and most long-standing migration channel between India and the UK. The project brought in worldwide collaboration research teams from Europe, Asia and Africa, including representatives of both 'old' EU Member States (France, Germany, UK), 'new' Member States (Estonia, Finland), Candidate Countries (Turkey) and International Cooperation Partner Countries (India, Morocco). The countries taking part in the project cover countries sending migrants (Estonia, India, Morocco, Turkey) and countries receiving migrants (Finland, France, Germany, UK), as well as transit countries (Morocco, Turkey).

To attain an understanding of the dynamic interplay between transnational migration and wider structural factors, we focused on people's border-crossing activities and on how they are connected to ongoing processes of political, economic, socio-cultural and educational transformations. The project adopted a multi-level approach: processes of transnationalism, in four transnational spaces, were analysed in the political, economic, socio-cultural and educational domains and with respect to the macro, meso and micro levels. In addition to the broader and highly aggregated structural level (macro), the research focused on an individual decision-making level (micro), and in people's transnational ties and networks on the intermediate level (meso). In practice, this meant cross-tabulation of the different analytical levels (macro-meso-micro) with regard to the political, socio-cultural, economic and educational domains. The following sub-questions were presented: (1) What is the role of geographically mobile people in the emergence of transnational spaces? and (2) How do the transnational spaces in question modify people's living conditions?

In order to attain a comprehensive and valid insight into the research topic, researchers representing different scientific backgrounds were brought together, both at national and internationals levels. The practical project work was divided into three Work-Packages, the first (WP1) being the development of a common theoretical-conceptual approach for the semi-structured and life-course interviews (WP2), while the third Work-Package (WP3) consisted of dissemination and the fourth (WP4) of management activities. Both theoretical-conceptual analyses and empirical case studies were accomplished. The empirical research conducted in Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Morocco, Turkey, and the United Kingdom addressed both policy documents and individual people, including both migrants and their significant others who 'left home'. Research data were gathered through content analysis of policy documents and semi-structured and life-course interviews. In 2009-2010, one hundred interviews were conducted in each participating country (800 in total).

In the first phase of the project (WP1), the focus was in the development of theoretical and contextual (historical, politico-legal) frameworks for the empirical studies. In the second phase (WP2), each country team sampled 80 persons for the semi-structured interviews. The groups of respondents included, e.g., long-term and temporary migrants, highly skilled labour migrants, posted workers, family-based migrants, humanitarian migrants (refugees, asylum seekers), and foreign degree students. They included men and women, representing diverse national, social and religious backgrounds, both first- and second-generation migrants, as well as non-migrants with transnational activities. In order to be selected, a person had to reside in the country in question, must have migrated from the pair country, or conduct any transnational activities in that country. In all countries, the main questions were mainly the same but, due to the differences in the political, legal and socio-cultural contexts, there were minor country-specific variations. In addition to personal background information, we elicited the respondents' migratory backgrounds and their transnational political, economic, socio-cultural and educational activities.

In the third phase (WP2), life-course interviews were conducted in order to gain more profound understanding of different modes of transnational lifestyles and the transformation processes surrounding them. We sought to attain an understanding of how the transnational lifestyles emerge and change, and of how they are maintained and transformed. The respondents were selected from the people taking part in the semi-structured interviews. In each country, 20 "attention-grabbing cases" representing different types of transnational activities were selected and asked to take part in the life-course interviews. The interview recordings were analysed qualitatively using interpretative content analysis. In order to understand the current characteristics of the transnational spaces in question and to be able to compare them with each other, the final analytical processes consisted of close reflexive collaboration with the research teams of the pair countries. The four Space Reports were prepared collaboratively with the pair country teams.

Project Results:

In order to understand the current features of migrant transnationalism, it is necessary to look back at the connections between the countries in a historical perspective. For instance, the characteristics of migration between India and the UK are extensively related to the colonial history of the countries (see Qureshi, Varghese, Osella & Rajan, 2011). Leading the massive migrations from post-independent India, during a general economic boom in post-war Britain, Punjabis contributed significantly to the process of so-called 'reverse colonization'. These migrations of the early 1950s and early 1960s consisted mainly of young males and were facilitated by the Commonwealth citizen regime under the 1948 British Nationality Act. Currently, persons of Indian origin form the largest ethnic minority group in Britain; and Punjabis constitute about 45 percent of the Indian community in the UK. On the other hand, Punjabis are one of the most out-migratory communities in present-day India. Britain is the country hosting the largest number of Punjabis outside India. It is estimated that 300,000 - 500,000 Sikhs and 54,000 Hindus from the Punjab today live in Britain.

From the 1960s to the late 1990s, British immigration and citizenship policies have maintained a double objective: immigration control combined with anti-discrimination legislation for migrants once in Britain. At the same time, the British government has actively fostered a sense of exteriority for its ethnic minority populations through the institutionalizing policies of multiculturalism. Punjabis have been at the forefront of anti-discrimination politics in Britain. The Race Relations Act (1976) provided protection in cases of discrimination against racial or ethnic, not religious identity, but since then, religious identification has also come under legal protection (e.g. the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, 2006). Recently, national and international events - specifically ethnic riots and terrorism - have led to a move towards policies directed towards fostering integration and cohesion, along with the construction of a 'core' national identity, the latter entailing 'citizenship ceremonies', a 'citizens' test' and the requirement to have some knowledge of English, Gaelic, Scottish or Welsh. In the post 9/11 context, questions of multiculturalism in the UK now focus chiefly on relationships with British Muslims. On the other hand, Punjabi Sikhs, Hindus and Christians have progressively sought to differentiate themselves from Muslims at the level of institutions and politics.

Similarly, the most important reasons for the intensive movement of people between Morocco and France lie in the past French colonial presence in Morocco and in the long history of emigration towards France (see Virkama, Therrien, Kadri & Harrami, 2011). During the first half of the twentieth century, Morocco was a country of immigration, receiving relatively large migration flows from France and other European countries. Thereafter Morocco experienced colonization for a fairly long period: the majority of Morocco's territory was under French occupation from 1912 to 1956. During the colonial period, the mobility of French to Morocco continued to increase at a steady pace, whereas the independence of Morocco ushered in the 'Moroccanization' of a part of the administration, which caused many French people to leave the country. By contrast, in the 1960s, France had a shortage of labour which caused economic operators to recruit on southern Mediterranean shores. This led to the first wave of emigration from Morocco, predominantly consisting of single males. To ensure a steady supply of labour, France signed a number of agreements with Morocco in 1963. Today, Morocco is one of the most important emigration countries in the world. Moroccan outmigration cannot entirely be explained by economic factors without looking at political transformations in the country: since the 1960s, the Moroccan state has actively encouraged emigration from certain regions for political and economic reasons.

French immigration policy has changed significantly since 1974, when labour migration was officially halted due to increased unemployment among immigrant population and concern over the Gulf War and the oil crisis. At that time, family reunification became the most common type of entry visa, together with student mobility (students are counted as immigrants if they stay more than one year in France). After decades of heated public debates on immigration, today, France is aiming at selective immigration (l'immigration choisie) as opposed to enforced immigration (l'immigration subie): from family and undocumented migration towards highly skilled migration. The political orientation has changed in Morocco, too. Given the economic weight of money transfers made by Moroccans abroad, the government of Morocco has put in place a very important institutional system to manage and monitor its migrant population. Recently, the migratory flows departing from or transiting through Morocco to Europe have become so pressing for both Morocco and Europe that the issue of immigration has been taken into account in Moroccan public policies. Since the 1990s, mainly under pressure from Europe, the Moroccan government has come to adopt a security approach to migration issues, with various devices to control the flows of undocumented migrants originating from Morocco and sub-Saharan regions. Beside this restrictive policy, there is no integration procedure in Morocco.

Germany has been the main magnet for labour migrants and refugee from Turkey to Europe (see Gerdes, Reisenauer & Sert, 2011). Although the initial assumption was that Turkish 'guest-workers' would stay in Germany just for a limited period of time and then return to Turkey, this was not the case, but many of them settled in Germany. It should also be noted that Turkey is not only a country of emigration but also of immigration and transit. Overall, by the end of 2010, there have been five transformations regarding the migration regimes involving Turkey and Germany. First, while the official labour movement from Turkey to Germany decreased, migration did not end, but assumed other forms such as family reunification, refugee movement, and clandestine labour migration. Second, new directions were added to Turkish emigration beginning with the oil-rich MENA countries, and continuing with the countries of the former USSR. In a period when a downturn of migratory flows to the labour-receiving Arab countries began in the Gulf Crisis, the migratory movement to the countries of the former USSR became a remedy for the emigration pressures in Turkey. Third, both Germany and Turkey engaged in intense asylum movements, the former being a destination, the latter being a source, transit and destination country. Fourth, Turkey's changing status did not only entail asylum flows; the country has also become a destination and transit country for economic migrants. Thus, both countries found themselves in difficult positions for regulating the different migratory flows that they have been subject to. While Germany has only recently begun to admit its status as a country of immigration, Turkey is under pressure to acknowledge it. Finally, at the beginning of the 2000s, Germany has witnessed extensive political, public and academic debates on a comprehensive immigration and integration policy in the context of increasing economic globalization. As a consequence, both policies practised in Germany have changed significantly, favouring highly-skilled immigrants and restricting access of immigrants who are deemed costly to society. Currently, in a climate of rising expectations concerning economic growth, the conception has gained importance that Germany should join the 'race for talent' (Shachar, 2006: 148-206) and recruit specifically highly skilled migrants.

In Finland, too, the current tendency is towards facilitating immigration of qualified labour (see Järvinen-Alenius, Jakobson, Pitkänen, Ruutsoo, Keski-Hirvelä & Kalev, 2011). Until the 1980s, Finland was mainly a country of emigration, but since the beginning of the 1990s, the number of immigrants has steadily increased. This has mainly been due to humanitarian and family-based migrations. Moreover, people of Finnish origin living in the area of the former Soviet Union (mostly in Russia and Estonia) were allowed to migrate to Finland under special conditions. These so-called Ingrian Finns attained to right to permanent residence in Finland if they could prove their Finnish ancestry. The first immigration policy programme in Finland (1997) focused mainly on humanitarian and family migrants, whereas the present programme, established in 2006, is intended to actively increase in-migration of labour force. In particular, after Estonia became an EU Member State (2004) and a Schengen country (2007), movement of labour from Estonia to Finland gained further impetus. Due to Estonia's Soviet past, people's opportunities for migration were restricted until the beginning of the 1990s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a significant number of people migrated from Estonia to Finland. During the last 10-15 years, the Estonian-Finnish space has been increasingly characterised by ever deeper and more stable transnational contacts in both directions. Today, there are thousands of Finns living in Estonia and tens of thousands of Estonians living and working in Finland; these are considerable numbers given the small population of the countries (1.4 million inhabitants in Estonia and 5 million in Finland).


According to the research findings, both migratory patterns and people's motivations for departure are in transformation. In addition to new migratory patterns, changes were noted in the extensity, intensity, and motivational basis of transnational migration. The following sections characterize the main patterns of present-day migration and other transnational activities.

In many cases transnational migration appeared to be gradual: migration started for one reason and after that, another reason emerged that prolonged the stay. For instance, students ended up either working in the host country after finishing their studies, or returned later for professional or family reasons. Labour migrants often emigrated as family migrants and family migrants may later become labour migrants. In other cases, family migrants' labour may be invested in sustaining transnational households and at times also businesses. For instance, among Moroccan labour migrants, the most common channel to France was through studies and family reunification. As immigration in France has been strictly regulated since 1974, it is legally impossible for a Moroccan to reside in France with the declared purpose to find a job. Consequently, many Moroccans try to obtain a residence permit in another way, for instance via a student visa or through family reunification, in order to be allowed to have a legal job.

Although in all the receiving countries studied there is an increasing interest in international recruitment of skilled labour, the migratory strategies of people are not always in accordance with these endeavours. For instance, in the UK government's intentions to recruit temporary or circular professional migrants on a 'win-win' basis fail to consider the changing strategies of people in the Punjab. The new professional migrants from the Punjab to the UK are less inclined to the idea of living the whole of their lives in UK. There are cases in which after a few years in the UK they migrate to other countries, like the USA, Canada and Australia for better economic prospects and sometimes even for a better climate. There are also IT professionals who are planning to return and settle in Indian cities like Bangalore. The research revealed that student and skilled migration, in particular, are often circular, taking place in bi-national or wider international contexts. This became evident especially among highly-skilled respondents; many of them had been moving internationally due to their careers or studies. Besides Indian IT professionals in worldwide diaspora, examples include Estonian labour migrants who commute weekly between Estonia and Finland. The short distance between Estonia and Finland has resulted in rather intensive circular migration. Pre-migratory experiences significantly influence people's transnational trajectories. In the Moroccan-French case it became apparent that many respondents had already travelled or stayed in one or several foreign countries before migrating, particularly French people who tend to consider that travelling and experiences of expatriation were part of a way of life. Some Moroccans had also lived in a foreign country - such as Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark or Germany - before settling in France. Moroccans living abroad tend to engage fairly actively in transnational activities on various levels, from frequent travels, communication and financial remittances to home construction in two spaces and engagement in the local development in Morocco.

Transnational migration is not static but variable and changes over time. The frequency and intensity of transnational relations and practices do not vary only among migrants but also during their life courses. There are cases in which the cross-border contacts and the stays in the other country are increasing. This applies especially to migrants after their retirement. Also, in a considerable number of cases, Turkish migrants' children set up or intensify contacts to Turkey when they are adult, for different occupational, educational or political reasons. But there are also cases where cross-border contacts decrease over time. This is true, for example, among those Turkish migrants who went to Germany under the 'guest-worker' scheme and returned in a relatively shorter period of time. Their cross-border contacts diminish upon their return. It should further be noted that return in the German-Turkish case is a peculiar concept, which has an institutionally-produced biographical transnational dimension. The recruited Turkish 'guest-workers' were regarded as temporary workers and permanent residence in Germany was not officially intended. The assumption that Turkish migrants would work in Germany for a limited period of time and then return to Turkey was initially also shared by the 'guest-workers' themselves. Thus, much of the life plans and personal projects of Turkish migrants were oriented towards a return to Turkey, while at the same time they became increasingly involved with the social and cultural conditions in Germany the longer they stayed. Though there is a lack of solid data and formal mechanisms to track the numbers, there are both first and second-generation Turkish who have been returning to Turkey either permanently or in a certain form of circular migration, for instance, spending half of the year in Germany and the other half in Turkey. Still, for example, compared to Mexican migration to the United States, which is dominated by circular migration, the case of Turkish migrants in Germany is rather characterised by settlement and whole-family migration. For Moroccans working in France, migration projects are often considered temporary, and the return back 'home' is a real option. Still, our fieldwork showed that the 'new migrants' (the latest migration waves) sometimes have no intention of returning. It was also interesting to note that the prospect of return was absent from the discourse of most French participants. For many of them, migration to Morocco had been stimulated by a professional challenge, whether in the frame of an expatriate contract, a local job, a project to create an enterprise, or a religious call. Some had moved there on retirement.

As expected, international marriages have a significant influence on migration. A typical family migrant is a woman moving to her husband's home country. Moreover, familial ties have long been shown to be the building blocks for chain migration, and 'arranged marriages' channels for undocumented migration. For a Moroccan, marriage to a French native is a means to get a residence permit in France. In the British context, the term 'mangetars' is used to describe persons arriving after arranging the marriage or those coming on a temporary visit, student or work visas ended up marrying someone from Britain. There is intense pressure on unauthorised migrants to have their status legalised through the strategy of marriage, which in turn engenders fear among the local Punjabi community, particularly for girls, about youngsters resorting to underhand trickery to form alliances with someone who is 'British-born' or 'British', alongside fears of bogus marriages. As a rule, the evidence suggests that transnational migration is being feminized. This became evident, in particular, in the case of Morocco. Although it is common to explain unemployment of Maghrebi women in France by "the cultural norms prevailing in Islamic countries, where female employment outside home is often discouraged" (Hargreaves, 1995: 42) the empirical evidence does not support this idea. All the Moroccan interviewed women were very active. In some cases, their family members had been against their participation in working life, but it was mainly because the work was perceived as low status job by their middle-class families and therefore not suitable for them. In Finland, it was noted that most Estonian female migrants intended to find work in Finland but, in practice, it often took them several years to obtain a similar position on the labour market than they had had in their own country.

In all participating countries, there are various categories of undocumented migrants, including people crossing national borders clandestinely without documents or with forged documents, overstaying visitors, seeking for asylum, etc. In the face of growing state violence in order to confront the Sikh separatist movement in India, many suspects were forced to flee the country and seek asylum in various countries, including the UK. They sometimes travelled through transit countries with the help of agents and relatives. However, these 'torture victims' distinguish themselves from ordinary 'illegal migrants' through their accounts of political activism and resultant persecution and suffering. New UK policies on immigration have led to a criminalization of 'illegal'/'irregular' migrants and the proliferation of 'illicit' networks. This has contributed to the establishment of Punjabi settlements across continental Europe as countries on the 'transit' route are turned into countries of settlement. The establishment of Punjabi settlements across continental Europe has led to the creation of new state-to-state linkages, as Turkey and Eastern European countries have been pushed to develop bilateral agreements concerning 'irregular' migration and deportation but have also profited from new forms of skilled migration, for example the growing Eastern European market for international students from the Indian subcontinent. Both men and women travel to the UK in this manner. There are agents who facilitate such flows quite efficiently. There are a good number of marriage bureaus arranging brides from the UK for aspiring youngsters to make their way into the UK. Such 'paper marriages' are arranged with consenting British citizens who are paid for their participation.

Although the people's motivations to migrate seemed to be diverse, poverty or making a living was the primary compulsion in most cases: the departure was often motivated by prospects of an economically better life. However, the desire for 'somewhere else' also emerged as an important motivation for departure. The strong desire for somewhere else was sometimes juxtaposed in the respondents' stories with a feeling of weariness due to the social, economic and political climate in the sending country. In this respect, a difference was apparent between the ends of migratory axes. While among French people the desire for departure was often embedded in specific events in individuals' life courses (divorce, loss of employment, retirement) or merely general frustration with the society of origin and its politics or cultural environment, for Moroccans the desire for 'somewhere else' was usually linked with a search for a social and economic improvement. For citizens of migrant receiving wealthy countries it is technically possible to settle in another country with the sole objective of seeking experiences or adventures. Such a project can take various forms from an artistic quest to a spiritual vocation, the search for recognition, the desire for a comfortable way of life or even the attainment of a dream. Many respondents pointed out personal motivations and life-cycle stage reasons in shaping their decision-making regarding migration. There were so-called 'sun migrants', for example Finns in Estonia and Germans in Turkey. In all cases under study, there were diverse migratory models which can be gathered under the title lifestyle migrants, described by O'Reilly (2007) as "relatively affluent individuals, moving 'en masse', either part or full time, permanently or temporarily, to countries where the cost of living and/or the price of property is cheaper, places which, for various reasons, signify something loosely defined as quality of life." The key motivation for those migrations has been the search for something intangible, encapsulated in the phrase 'quality of life'.


In recent years, many migrant sending countries have become increasingly interested in migrant diaspora abroad. In India, the realisation of the strategic importance of the Indian diaspora has resulted in concrete steps by the state to promote emotional and economic ties with its 'overseas citizens'. The establishment of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) in 2004 is considered an important step in this direction. MOIA is mandated to "promote, nurture and sustain a mutually beneficial and symbolic relationship between India and overseas Indians" (MOIA, 2007: 6). It is expected to ensure the welfare and protection of overseas Indians while emigrating, while expatriates and after returning from work overseas. More recently, the government of India established an India Development Foundation (IDF) to promote philanthropy among the Indian diaspora, having realized the potential of transnational diaspora resources through the channel of philanthropy. The attempts to "make the overseas Indian an active participant in the India growth story" (MOIA, 2008: 43) has been accompanied by a new 'representational regime' through the production/re-invention of categories like Non-Resident Indian (NRI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO), Overseas Indian Citizen (OCI), etc, as new signifiers and as administrative categories. The category of NRI was created by the Indian state in the 1970s in an attempt to interperceive the migrant as an extension of the nation with visible economic intentions. The powerful language of nationalism has been extended to non-citizens of Indian origin in the late 1990s by taking concrete measures to strengthen and reinforce the emotional ties that transnational Indian citizens apparently share with their motherland. The category of PIO was invented and a PIO Card scheme was introduced in 1999, long before the formation of MOIA, in an effort to give formal and bureaucratic expression to such enduring bonds. A PIO card holder is entitled to visit India without a visa for 15 years; no separate student visa or employment visa is required for admission to educational institutions and taking up employment in India. More recently, the Government of India introduced a scheme of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), by which aspiring/eligible PIOs are granted Overseas Citizenship of India. The scheme has been operational since December 2005. OCI has been introduced as a new category of citizenship to facilitate life-long visa, unrestricted travel to India and certain economic, educational and cultural benefits.

At the same time, the British government has institutionalized the exteriority of its Indian population through the minoritizing practices of multiculturalism and therefore played its part in producing transnationalism. On the other hand, Sikhs in the UK have turned their gaze from Punjabi 'homeland politics' to other transnational linkages. In particular, young people's transnational politics re-worked those of their parents. In spite of their transnational orientation, most of the Indian migrants were not very interested in dual citizenship, most of them preferring the 'red passport' to Indian nationality. Even the returnees who had decided to spend the rest of their lives in the Punjab wanted to retain their British citizenship because of the practical advantages it conferred. Only the circular migrants, such as the migrants on vacation who were working on temporary international assignments in IT, management or hospitality, were an exception to this pattern as they wished to retain Indian citizenship, privileging their families, property and livelihoods in India. The citizenship tests and other trends towards a white-coded and assimilationist formation of citizenship were felt to be exclusionary. While British citizenship was still desirable, some recent migrants were discouraged by the requirement of having to expend so much energy - perhaps fruitlessly - on having to improve their English and be so accredited by a national standardized test.

Many Indian migrants either had, or were planning to take British citizenship as soon as they had spent sufficient years in Britain to be eligible for it. The inhospitability of the British state towards even 'legal' immigrants had created a sense that the granting of entry clearance and rights to remain in the UK was so arbitrary, that British citizenship should be secured as quickly as possible. Thus the adoption of British citizenship was overwhelmingly explained in terms of pragmatic considerations - that the 'red passport' gave them benefits in terms of welfare entitlements and greater ease in applying for visas to travel to third countries. Interwoven into these pragmatic considerations was also a strong sense in which British citizenship was a symbolic asset, prized and considered to be superior. The question of national identity, however, was met with ambivalence or indifference. Whilst most of the informants wanted solid British citizenship, there was a strong sense of being excluded from the mainstream narration of national identity by virtue of racial images. Even the British-born Punjabis are still not recognized simply as British. Instead, in everyday speech, the category 'English' or 'British' is often synonymous with 'white person'. The racism implicit within such constructions of Britishness was remarked upon in relation to Gordon Brown's protectionist response to the credit crunch in early 2009, and the high-profile campaigning by the British National Party and the English Defence League in 2009-2010. The informants cited this political rhetoric as proof that ultimately there would always be a powerful constituency of people who would not accept that they are British.

There was a clear hierarchical order within the India-UK transnational space, with Indian nationality ranked below British and other European, North American and Australian nationalities. Likewise, in the Moroccan-French case, the colonial echo could be heard in the respondents' national identity. Moroccans in France strongly defended French values, whereas both Moroccans living in France and Moroccans returning to Morocco generally described their values as a combination of French and Moroccan. The recent measures taken by French politicians reveal an increasingly selective and strict citizenship policy. These measures facilitate expulsion and give the option to withdraw French nationality from a person of foreign origin who has committed a crime against the French authorities. On the other hand, the process of obtaining French nationality has been made easier for qualified immigrants: athletes, scientists, artists, and so on. The candidates applying for French nationality have to sign a contract, called 'Contrat d'accueil', and promise to respect French laws and values. A project, called 'Besson's law', in 2010, aims at stricter punishments of those foreigners who accumulate short-term visas in order to stay in the French territory as well as for those migrants who are suspected of entering into marriage of convenience in order to achieve residence status in France (Le Point, 29.9.2010).

Whereas immigration to France is strictly controlled, French natives can move freely between France and Morocco. Consequently, obtaining Moroccan nationality did not particularly attract them. The situation appeared to be very different among Moroccans in France. The acquisition of French nationality was high on agenda for them. Strikingly many Moroccans with plans to return were willing to acquire French nationality. Most often this was justified as a guarantee to be able to move freely in the future. However, less than one third of the Moroccans had acquired French nationality, or attained dual nationality. Few Moroccans (most of them were married to a spouse with French nationality) considered they might apply for French nationality or had started naturalization proceedings. In most cases, the advantages conferred by French nationality triumphed over loyalty to their country of origin. The motivations can mainly be explained by pragmatic reasons (freedom of mobility, access to employment sectors reserved for nationals, etc). Both among the French and Moroccan participants, the most common political activity was voting, even if some respondents (mostly French) mentioned that they were not at all interested in politics. Some Moroccan participants had a politically oriented background, mainly in the Marxist movement of the 1960s and 1970s in Morocco, and the political conditions had clearly influenced their desire to migrate. In fact the political actions of these leftists consisted of defending citizens' rights in Morocco rather than participating in French political life. The networks of French and international associations for the defence of human rights played a role of great importance in denouncing the violation of human rights and supporting Moroccan political prisoners. The kinds of events that motivate these politically active Moroccan participants are demonstrations against racism, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. An increasingly popular way of expressing one's political opinions, particularly for the younger generation, consists of sending videos and articles through Facebook or other social media. Further recent examples include the role of diasporic communities in drawing the world's attention mainly to the limited political freedom in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but also in Algeria and Morocco. This in fact is not a new phenomenon. Among Moroccan respondents there were many political exiles in the 1960s and 1970s who had been engaged in a battle for democracy in Morocco and often engaged in trade union or associated activities in France. The younger generation of Moroccans students born in the 1980s and 1990s, seemed to be less engaged in party politics, but should not be mistaken to be less politically active. In fact, many were willing to discuss the political problems concerning their own society: corruption, limited personal freedom, unemployment etc. or about what they considered as general injustice towards Arabs and Muslims, namely the occupation of Palestinian territory and islamophobia and discrimination in Europe. For the younger generation, political participation meant, for example, taking part in demonstrations and pledging or posting videos on virtual social platforms such as Facebook.

In the German case, it is crucial that the official government position that Germany is not and should not be a country of immigration was dominant until the late 1990s. The 2000 Nationality Law accepted the immigration processes of the past by substantively easing the conditions of citizenship acquisition of immigrants and their descendants who had already resided in Germany for many years. Furthermore, the 2005 Immigration Law allowed regularly for additional immigration and also defined the integration of immigrants as a responsibility of the state. In the German context, no obvious direct correlation was observed between the respondent's citizenship status (i.e. whether they had German or Turkish citizenship only or dual citizenship) and their transnational political commitment. For many, citizenship was not primarily a matter of political participation, but rather a question of rights and opportunities or of emotional affiliation. For many Turkish migrants, Turkish citizenship had a kind of emotional meaning regarding their definition of cultural identity. On the other hand, there were several Turkish respondents who emphasized their political, cultural or emotional distance from Turkey, saying that they, for different reasons, would or did not experience any problems when giving up Turkish citizenship.

In the Turkish case, the change from being a country of emigration to one of immigration and transit put Turkey in a rather awkward position in terms of its own migration and citizenship policies. Like Germany in the past, Turkey is quite unwilling to accept being an immigrant country. It is only with the pressure of the EU accession negotiations that the necessary policies have begun to take effect. Nevertheless, there are many legal limits to immigrants' political and social integration into the community at large. With an amendment to the Turkish citizenship law in 1995, Turkey created a privileged non-citizen status, permitting holders of the 'pink card' (or 'blue card') to reside, to acquire property, to be eligible for inheritance, to operate businesses, and to work in Turkey just like any citizen, but without the right to vote in local or national elections. The motivation behind the amendment was to create a mechanism to allow Turks living in Germany to acquire German citizenship without renouncing their rights in Turkey. It was noted that a considerable number of Turkish migrants in Germany, with different socio-structural characteristics, follow political events in Turkey more or less regularly by reading Turkish newspapers, watching Turkish TV, using online sources or keeping themselves informed through conversation within families, without participating directly and actively in Turkish politics. It was interesting to note that high transnational political interests and activities coincide with similar high interests and patterns of participation in the German political context. This suggests that political attention and participation should not be regarded as a zero-sum game in general, in the sense that political interest in events in the country of origin would automatically lead to a reduced political interest or to a diminished political loyalty towards the country of residence.

Likewise, in the Estonian-Finnish political space, the most popular form of participation mentioned was voting: voting in the country of residence was more common than in the country of origin (the country whose citizen the respondent officially was). Although, in most cases, the political participation was passive, some Estonians took part in the activities of the Finnish political parties. Some of the Estonian respondents, however, felt unempowered and left on the peripheries by both the Finnish and the Estonian political community. It is also noteworthy that the Finns interviewed were less prone to feel any loyalty towards the Estonian state. The differences in feeling loyal to the host state may reflect the asymmetry of the transnational space: differences between a citizen-centred welfare state (Finland) and a neoliberal state (Estonia). It should also be taken into account that the transnational space of Estonia-Finland is fairly new. When Estonia became an EU Member State in 2004, free movement of people was not allowed to Finland but a transition phase was imposed by Finnish policymakers until 1 May 2006. Today, people's transnational activities are becoming more diversified and, in particular, short-term cross-border mobility of workers between Estonia and Finland has become an issue on the policy agenda. A recent tendency in Finland has been towards facilitating the attainment of multiple state membership; the current Nationality Act (2003/359) allows dual/multiple citizenship more widely than did the former Act (1984/584). The new citizenship policy has mainly developed as a result of external pressures, in particular of Finnish membership of the European Union. A further influential factor has been the Finnish emigrants who lost their Finnish citizenship and wanted to regain it (Harinen, Pitkänen, Sagne & Ronkainen, 2006: 121-144).

While Finnish citizenship policy has become more open, in Estonia, the policy has remained rather restrictive. Recently Estonian migration policy has become more liberalised with the introduction of EU rules on free movement and residence of EU citizens and permanent foreign residents. Still, for example, dual citizenship is not legally possible in Estonia. The overall reason lies in the country's post-communist background. Estonian citizenship and migration policies were significantly influenced by the Soviet annexation between 1940/44 and 1991. While the 'iron curtain' separated the Estonians from the non-Soviet world (including Finland) there was no effective border between Estonia and other areas of the Soviet Union. A current question on policy agenda concerns the relatively large Russian-speaking population in Estonia, as a result of the extensive and often forced in-migration of Russian-speaking people (ca. 500,000) during the Soviet period (in 2009, the share was 31.25% of the total population).


Particularly in the Turkish-German and Estonian-Finnish cases, the research revealed the central role of the economic domain in the emergence of the transnational spaces in question. On the German side, we observed in the economic and occupational domains much stronger transnational activities among Turkish migrants than in the political sphere. In particular, the role of 'guest-workers' was vital in the emergence of the transnational space in question. Although the initial assumption was that Turkish migrants would work in Germany for only a limited period of time and then return to Turkey, many of them have become increasingly involved with social and economic life in Germany, and established (service sector) companies, for example. Turks in Germany, besides being typical factory labourers, are also engaged in high profile jobs, such as doctors or nurses. Since Germany extensively supports migrants' integration, there are increasing opportunities for them to bring in their particular experiences and competencies based on their migratory background. In many cases, this has led to increasing transnational relations. In the German sample some of the interviewees gave financial support to family members in Turkey. This includes regularly money for close family members or the extended family collects money to finance the education of children.

In the Estonian-Finnish case, remittances are flowing in both directions: in addition to Estonian labour migrants and their family members who remit money back home, there are also some Finnish (commuting) labour migrants and businessmen sending money back to Finland. The economic domain of the Estonian-Finnish space is perhaps the most transnational. Also, it seems largely to be functioning according to the logic of functional differentiation: Estonia is playing the role of the market and a bureau for the Finnish companies, and Tallinn has become a sort of suburb of Helsinki, while Finland has become a 'metropolis' where both blue-collar workers and top level specialists go for a better salary or development conditions. It is evident that the migratory practices of Estonian commuting labour migrants as well as some Finnish migrants, whose movements are undertaken on a regular basis, are vital to the emergence of Estonian-Finnish transnational space. Estonia is also playing the role of the market and bureau for many Finnish companies; whereas Finland has become a place where both Estonians blue-collar workers and top level specialists may go for a better salary or development conditions.

In the space of Morocco-France, the economic ties between two countries exist in the form of investments, transnational enterprises and financial and monetary remittances. Morocco's economy lies mostly in three sectors: tourism, migrants' remittances and phosphate as a natural resource. Of these, remittances are by far the most important source of income, exceeding development aid three to four times and private investments three times. Thus it can be said that Morocco's economic and social development rests heavily on migrants' shoulders. Yet it was found that financial and material flows move in the opposite direction as well: Moroccan parents also finance their children's studies in France and a number of wealthy Moroccans invest their extra money in France, buying apartments or businesses. Likewise, in India, migrants' remittances are important in producing economic and social development in the country. It was noted, however, that those regularly sending remittances and contributions back home represent only a small section of Punjabis in the UK. Besides, in India, remittances tend not to be channelled towards 'productive consumption' such as education or healthcare. Furthermore, economic investments in the Punjab were fraught with family tensions over property management, inheritance and cheating, reflected by the thousands of criminal cases presented to NRI police stations and NGOs.

Most evidently, development of the labour market in the transnational spaces in question is decidedly asymmetric. While in some cases ethnic or national background may appear an asset or a handicap in the labour market, in other cases, national background may be an advantage. This became apparent in the schemata of established networks and enterprises, as well as in the job opportunities of migrants. For example, some French people estimated that they could find better opportunities and achieve higher responsibilities in Morocco than in France, and that they had an advantage of being favoured by reason of their nationality in Morocco. Instead, many Moroccans in France felt that their nationality could be a source of discrimination. Similarly, some Estonian respondents reported discrimination on the Finnish labour market. Many of them mentioned that Finnish work culture values orderliness, discipline and obeying orders, but at the same time they were very much aware of the employee's rights. Unemployment and brain-waste are real problems among many transnational migrants, and even some of the highly-qualified migrants retake exams or re-educate themselves in order to get a job on a higher level of specialisation. However, getting a job also depends on the field of experience; for example, Estonian labour migrants working in the construction trade, factories, or in the transportation sector had obtained work in Finland easily because of their previous working experience and the urgent need for labour. Still, particularly Estonian family migrants and so-called Ingrian Finns had serious difficulties finding a job in their field of expertise.

In all destination countries, the current tendency is characterized by selective immigration policies and by the intention to recruit labour force, especially highly qualified professionals from abroad. International recruitment practices are increasingly commodified as a business, and thousands of informal agents and consultants have mushroomed across the nation-states. In some cases, maintaining transnational networks and social relationships was crucial for getting a job. For example, in the case of Moroccans in France, it was noted that personal networks are important to find employment in the new host country. International recruitment practices may also be profiting from the widespread desire to migrate overseas due to a receptive grey labour market, and are unregulated by governments. For instance in Britain, 'illicit' flows of people through loopholes in immigration and citizenship laws are condoned by the state for material reasons in the context of a receptive and exploitative informal labour market.

In practice, self-employment is an important source of income for many transnational migrants. For some Estonians, starting a business in Finland was a way to employ oneself, for example, as a shopkeeper or hairdresser, while some had been working in Finland for years as specialists before founding their own companies. Just the opportunity structures for entrepreneurs are rather different in migrant sending and receiving countries. Most of the Finnish entrepreneurs interviewed admitted that their decision to come to Estonia to do business was fairly straightforward. Later on, many of the companies had extended their activities to other countries outside Estonia. Similarly, for many French entrepreneurs in Morocco, Morocco was considered as a first step towards wider international markets. Instead, enterprises created by Moroccans in France typically targeted migrant population in the first place and perhaps later, once established, would address wider groups of clients. In the Turkish-German case, transnational entrepreneurship is essentially based on cross-border exchange of goods, capital, services, know-how or cross-border deployment of workforce. As time passed, Turks began to provide services to their compatriots by opening Turkish ethnic enterprises that mostly concentrated on the food industry, food distribution, repair and greengrocery. Likewise in Britain, transnational migrants are perceived as a potential market for those who have created small businesses, based on observations of demands and needs for particular goods or services, like grocer's shops, the organization of different celebrations, furniture stores, restaurants and catering companies.


Familial and kinship networks are of great importance for understanding the current characteristics of migrant transnationalism. Many other factors of the socio-cultural dimension of transnationalism, such as cultural identities (including religion, language, lifestyles) and care issues are often linked to transnational families. According to the research findings, in addition to familial and kin networks, religion and cultural connections appeared to be a major basis for people's transnational commitments.

On the basis of the research results, the familial ties revealed an expanded transnational or even world-wide field (especially in the Punjabi case). In practice, however, state governance has a significant influence over transnational families. For example, in the Turkish-German case, it became evident that in spite of the increasing occurrence of transnational families, as an unavoidable outcome of the Turkish-German migration history, border-crossing visits of family members are arduous and have been made conditional on financial preconditions which can only be fulfilled by some of the migrants concerned. In Britain, state governance of family reunification has a significant influence over the families and their informal networks. The definitions of citizenship and nationality have manipulated the meanings and legitimacy attached to being a part of a migrant family, creating a distinctly state-produced context for transnational families. During the years of Conservative government (1979-1997), family reunification was controlled by a narrow, gender-biased and racialised interpretation of the right to family life through legislation which critics argue served specifically to restrict South Asian migration through 'arranged marriage'. The research revealed that marriages in the UK are increasingly local, encompassing forms such as mixed-faith, mixed-caste or mixed-race partnerships. Thus the findings problematize assumptions underlying the burgeoning literature on transnational networks. First, the family and household do not exist as corporate entities: they are internally fractured by relations of gender and generation. Second, in attending to the flexibility and capaciousness of practices of family and relatives we find that transnational families are not entities that exist a priori but are produced through generations of mobility. Third, the ambivalences, disappointments and potential for informality, exploitation and treachery within so-called networks argues for a more nuanced and contextual analysis of relationships that attends to history, power relations as well as relations with the state.

Transnational social care is increasingly important among transnational migrants and their family and kinship networks. In all cases under study, there appeared both cases of transnational care practices, as well as shortages of formal mechanisms regulating social security rights in transnational settings (especially on retirement and health care issues). In practice, many migrants utilized their ad hoc informal contacts. The respondents also pointed out the differences in kinship relations between the sending and receiving countries. For example, it was perceived that in Estonia/the former Soviet Union, people often had closer ties to their family members than in Finland. In the case of India-UK, long distances make transnational care practices very difficult, whereas in the Estonian-Finnish and Moroccan-French cases, the geographical proximity of the countries, the low cost and speed of means of communication and transport greatly helped to maintain close links between migrants and those relatives 'left behind', although in some cases, national regulations caused obstacles to arranging caring activities. It was common that Estonian migrants kept up frequent cross-border contacts to their significant others: visited them regularly, phoned or communicated through Internet (skype, messenger, Facebook etc.), mostly weekly but sometimes even daily. Similarly, most Turkish respondents had intensive contacts to Turkey: they regularly went to Turkey to visit their families and telephoned almost every day. But the interviewees also mentioned problems in Germany concerning social support. They often report that Turkish migrants are uninformed about health and care institutions in Germany. As a result, informal support and care were often given by family members. Beside financial and other forms of material support, many interviewees reported social support practices of family members which go in both directions. This was relevant in cases of illness and death but also for weddings. The frequency and intensity of transnational contacts was related to different factors, such as the respondent's concrete life situation or the owning of property. In the case of Turkey-Germany, the geographical distance appeared to be rather relative: whereas some interviewees reported that they could not go to Turkey to visit their relatives because of physical distance, some other interviewees said that nowadays travelling to and communicating with Turkey is easy because of new and cheaper technologies, such as cheap flights or handy flat rates to Turkey.

Religion may be an important criterion of familiarity with home. For many respondents, belonging to a religious community (whether Christian, Muslim or other) largely contributed to a feeling of closeness with home. In the cases of religious differences in the respondents' living contexts, religion proved to be a major route for transnational engagement. In these cases, transnational orientation may even obstruct integration into the host society. For instance, in France but also in other European countries, a current problem regards cases of social exclusion among the representatives of Muslim minorities. In the Pubjabi-UK case, besides its political role, religion also provided a major route for transnational connectivity beyond Punjab. Since the crushing of the Khalistani militancy in the Punjab in the late 1990s, Sikh ethno-nationalism in the UK has re-configured under a rubric of human rights, re-working long-standing themes of martyrdom within the Sikh tradition.

The Estonian-Finnish space represents a case of religious homogeneity. Christianity is the main religion in both countries, although Finns are mainly members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Estonians belong to other Christian churches, such as the Orthodox or Catholic Church. Most evidently, religious similarity has a role to play here, although many respondents, especially the Estonian ones, stated that they were not religious at all. Some of the respondents replied that religion was of some importance in their daily lives although they did not actively take part in religious activities. In general, no conflict was seen in professing religion in these two countries. Some Estonian respondents explained how festivities, such as Christmas and Midsummer, or other traditions were typically celebrated with relatives by following the traditions of their country of origin. Some of the respondents had been mixing the cultural traditions of both countries. There was also some confusion among the Estonian respondents: some Estonians felt that important traditions were 'lost' during the Soviet era, and they did not want to pass on any Soviet traditions to their children. On the other hand, some traditions originating from the Soviet time were perceived with nostalgia.

In the UK sample, the question of identification was met with ambivalence or indifference: whilst most of the informants wanted British citizenship, there was a strong sense of being excluded from the mainstream narration of national identity by virtue of racial imaginaries. In the Moroccan-French case, over half of the respondents considered themselves at home in both countries. However, there was a significant contrast between discriminating situations experienced by some Moroccans in France and the surprise, even embarrassment, of French people facing positive stereotyping and recognition in Morocco. Such a contrast shows indices on the way symbolic dominating relations are internalized in the transnational space in question. Several Moroccans who had returned to their initial homeland explained that they left France because they felt frustrated as there was no real effort by French society to promote their integration. Many of them reported that their job did not correspond to the level of their degrees or qualifications. Most of them were very mobile between France and Morocco for personal or professional reasons. The possibility to keep in touch despite the distance greatly helped them not to feel cut off from their home(s). They all maintained frequent links (even every day for some) with relatives or friends in France or Morocco by telephone, Internet, programmes such as Skype, Voip or MSN Messenger, etc.

For Moroccans, nationality was often the primary source of socio-cultural engagement. Most Moroccans who had lived in France for several years identified themselves with France as well as with Morocco. Especially for those with dual citizenship (nationality), they define themselves as Franco-Moroccan and eagerly supported their belonging to both countries. Indeed, even if they could not officially declare themselves French, most of them spoke French fluently, and found their identity in French culture and values. In addition to national identities, the research data revealed a great variety of ethnic identifications, such as 'Arab', 'Maghrebi', 'North African', 'Mediterranean' or 'African'. In light of the Turkish sample, it may be argued that ethnic identity seems to be declining in importance, while a sense of belonging among migrants is becoming a more recurrent theme. Surprisingly, the issue seems to be more sensitive among so-called second generation migrants. Many of the representatives of the second generation are better educated than their Turkish parents; they are better integrated into German society, speaking perfect German, and most are German citizens. However, their Turkish identity seems to be a ghost that follows them. Almost all of the second-generation returnee migrants in Turkey are in their so-called home country to find out about their roots, feeling excluded and included at the same time. They either feel that they belong to neither of the countries, or to both of them. In both cases, they seem to feel in-secure. Despite their German IDs, in Germany, they are Turks. And in Turkey they are not Turks, but German-Turks. Unpredictably, the more educated the respondents are, the deeper they feel the identity crisis. The situation is somewhat different on the German side. In Germany, the better-educated second-generation migrants are those who have developed most likely a kind of positive self-relationship toward their bi-national or bi-cultural identity, even if they often report that it took a long time. The findings in Turkey showed that there is a correlation between the duration of stay in the host country and identity crisis: the more that a respondent stayed in Germany, the more he or she was having a hard time defining where "home" was. Instead, the first generation return migrants in Turkey, regardless of their duration of stay in Germany, and despite their dissatisfaction about many things in Turkey (i.e. health system, traffic, people spitting on the streets, etc.) identified themselves to a full extent as Turks. Among this group of respondents, there were only two cases who defined themselves as Muslims.

Many Estonians living in Finland stressed their engagement with Finnish society. Assimilationist attitudes were common. In comparison with the 'others' who were in conflict with the Finnish traditions - pointing out, for example, migrants of Somali origin - Estonian respondents usually wanted to underline that they themselves were very well adapted to Finnish society, to its customs, speaking the language, being law-abiding and so on. Some of the respondents explained how their identity had been changing over time: a few pointed out how their national identity had been reinforced while living abroad. Among the respondents there were some who identified themselves as Europeans or cosmopolitans, or reported that they felt at home everywhere and did not want to affiliate themselves with any particular nation.


The role of education has so far predominantly been analysed from a national perspective, and research within transnational settings has mainly focused on the difficulties experienced by immigrants in formal education or on the efforts to support their integration into the host society. Apart from formal education, we find it important to highlight informal education, particularly the acquisition of skills needed in transnational settings. Not only migrants but also the mainstream people in the receiving countries need skills to function in increasingly transnational and multicultural environments.

The research showed that in many countries, in spite of the multicultural goals of formal education, informal processes of schooling are strongly assimilationist. In the British context, we found that most young people's home environment was what linguists would describe as 'mixed', where Punjabi-speaking grandparents/parents conveyed knowledge of English through their own speech as well as through media exposure via TV and/or internet. Children started schooling as subordinating bilinguals and the intense academic and peer pressures to speak English in a monolingual school set-up led them to respond not by compartmentalizing their language practices into the domains of home and school, but to invest more in English. Their Punjabi came to be contaminated with English phonology, grammar and loanwords; they were also responsible for spreading the use of English further within their homes. Nonetheless, when asked about it in interviews they consistently divided their lives neatly down the middle between 'Punjabi culture' (at home or temple) and 'the outside culture' (at school).

In Finland, it was observed that integration into the Finnish school system was not found to be difficult among Estonian pupils in primary education; this was partly because of the similarity of the languages. Among the Estonian respondents, teaching of the mother tongue given at school was generally deemed crucial to the child's identity and future prospects. In Finland, it is possible for Estonian and other migrant pupils to study their mother tongue at school a few hours a week. Since Estonians form the second largest migrant group in Finland, Estonian language is taught in several towns. Many migrant respondents emphasized bilingualism as an important capability or even additionally as a prerequisite for other intercultural or transnational competencies. A similar pattern was observed in the Turkish and German samples. Education was something for their children to benefit from, utilize, and use to climb up the social ladder. Most of the respondents with children explained that it is important for them that their children learn German as well as Turkish.

In the German sample, it was noted that the children of non-citizens, whether they migrated with their parents or were born in Germany, lagged behind in education, both in comparison to their native counterparts and in comparison to similar pupil and student populations in other European countries. Educational outcomes in Germany of the so-called second migrant generation vary considerably among different ethnic groups, whereby the attainments of children of Turkish migrants are among the groups who are clearly below average. However, among our respondents there were also migrants who are fairly successful regarding their educational attainments. These include international students and children of highly-skilled Turkish migrants, on the one hand, and the upwardly mobile among the children of the former Turkish 'guest-workers', on the other hand. Although in many cases the so-called second generation migrants had severe problems during their school days, they often succeeded finally in their educational and occupational careers through some extraordinary support from outside the school.

In the field of vocational education, it was noted that Estonian degrees are not always an asset in the Finnish labour market. Therefore, Estonians who had obtained a Finnish degree did not have similar difficulties when applying for a job. During their sojourn in Finland, many vocationally educated Estonian respondents had updated their qualifications on various training courses; or they had qualified for an entirely new occupation years after their immigration. Some had studied the same occupation in Finland as they already had in Estonia in order to get a job in Finland and to improve their knowledge of Finnish (particularly professional vocabulary). Quite many Estonian respondents criticized Finnish society and Finnish employers for overvaluing Finnish diplomas and for underestimating foreign qualifications and professional skills. The situation was quite different among the Finnish respondents living and working in Estonia. Although many of them, usually businessmen, had incomplete higher education, this was no disadvantage in Estonian working life.

In the Turkish-German case, it was observed that migrants' transnational relations and the competencies they acquire and sustain in transnational contexts (such as multilingualism, knowledge of different countries) are often beneficial for their professional success and thus contribute significantly to their integration in Germany. Many respondents underlined that fluent skills in domestic languages, in-depth professional or vocational skills as well as knowledge of cultures and societies are needed if one works outside his/her country of origin. Migration in general was often referred to as a valuable learning experience: in order to adapt to a new country it was necessary to open up towards unknown practices and ways of thinking. As a result, some respondents claimed that they had become 'bi-cultural', capable of operating successfully in both sending and receiving societies. As for concrete skills acquired during the migration process, for many respondents, such as French in Morocco, and their IT skills had improved since they moved. To manage their transnational social connections, respondents had become familiar with programmes such as Skype and some of them used Internet for teleworking.

In the field of higher education, exchange programmes, joint degrees and other transnational connections existing between universities and other higher education institutes promote students' opportunities for transnational or even world-wide interaction. These international connections may also play an important role in channeling migration flows. It seems that among the Moroccans in France, a degree in higher education is the key to gaining a foothold in the French labour markets. French higher education institutes are generally more highly valued than their Moroccan counterparts, and university studies in France are considered as a step to upward social mobility in Morocco. However, several recently graduated Moroccan students complained about difficulties in finding their place in the French employment market, and those who found employment emphasized that they had been 'very lucky'. The way to employment went through either formal (institutional connections between schools and enterprises) or informal networks (friends and relatives). In the Moroccan-French case, a strong belief in the superiority of the French educational system was present in the narratives of most respondents. This applied to all educational levels: primary and vocational education in French educational institutions in Morocco and higher education in France. Although the education landscape in Morocco has changed considerably in recent decades, with the creation of many institutions of higher education covering all fields of study, the fact remains that a French degree is a definite asset in Morocco. This explains why most Moroccans want to register their children in French schools or universities. Some are willing to make considerable financial sacrifices so that their children can one day find an easier access to the job market.


To understand the characteristics of the transnational spaces of Estonia-Finland, India-UK, Morocco-France and Turkey-Germany, we asked: What is the role of geographically mobile people in the emergence of transnational spaces? How do the transnational spaces in question modify people's living conditions? Although political, social, economic and educational transformations fostered by migrant transnationalism constituted the main topic, the initial assumption was that the large-scale institutional and actor-centred patterns of transformation come about through a constellation of parallel processes. The research showed that not just working and educational contexts but also people's political activities and social support practices are increasingly transnational. The current nature of migrant transnationalism is the result of an interplay of various historical, political, economic, and cultural factors. For instance, the extensive overseas migration from India to the UK, in spite of the long distances, is based on the long-standing colonial connection between the countries. A parallel example of colonial background is the case of Morocco-France. Further, the Turkish-German case represents an established transnational connection in which 'guest-workers' have a vital role to play. Today, Turkey is not only a country of emigration, but also of immigration and transit. Acknowledgement of this fact is very important to change the general representation of Turkey which is inclined to underline only the labour migration from Turkey to Europe disregarding the reality that Turkey has to deal with similar migration-related issues like other European countries. Finally, the Estonian-Finnish space represents an emerging transnational space where human movement was for a long time prevented by the iron Curtain. Although the Estonian-Finnish space is a fairly recent migratory passage, it has undergone a very rapid development in the past two decades. It also has almost all of the classic characteristics conducive to transnational migration - short distance and good connections between the countries.

Whereas conventional migration studies have mainly concentrated on border-crossing migration as unidirectional and one time changes in location, within the TRANS-NET project, equal attention was paid to the question about how transnational processes are viewed from the perspectives of 'sending' and 'receiving' societies. It was noted that there are major circuits in people's cross-border mobility; people may leave one country to work in a second and then either return to their home country, or move on to a third. They may also live in one country and cross a national border on a regular basis to work in another. Many highly-qualified migrants especially have adopted highly mobile and transnational lifestyles. Technological development, in particular, the development of ICT has increased people's transnational activities and affected the ways in which daily transnational contacts are maintained. It was acknowledged that not all migrants engage in transnational activities in a similar way. It is also common that the extent and intensity of transnational activities changes during the migrants' life course. Not only migratory strategies but also people's motivations for departure are in transformation. Economic motivations to migrate remain important, but after achieving a satisfactory standard of living, migrants tend to take into account other factors contributing to their quality of life. Especially among the citizens of wealthy receiving countries, the departure is not necessarily motivated by financial reasons, but by a search for a possibility to enjoy a comfortable way of life e.g. as a retired person. Thus, there is good reason to argue that conceiving of transnational migrants in static categories is failing to appreciate dynamism through the life-course transitions, inter-generational shifts and the changing labour market conditions.

In all domains under study, an obvious research finding concerns asymmetry between the ends of migration continuum. In all countries receiving migrants, both immigration rules as well as integration policies have increasingly been related to what is deemed to serve the national interests. As in many Western countries, an ageing population means that there is/will be a shortage of labour, skilled migrants are welcomed as vital in the reproduction of workforce. At the same time many other newcomers, especially asylum seekers and refugees have been seen as a threat to the countries' economy and national security. Migratory strategies and motivations of individual people often contradict to these endeavours. A tension between national and individual interests may constitute serious challenge for policymaking. In the British case, it appeared that the question of national identity was met with ambivalence and indifference: while most of the informants with Indian background wanted British citizenship, there was a strong sense of being excluded from the mainstream narration of national identity by virtue of racial images.

The increase in people's transnational commitments has created an increasing necessity for rethinking the conventional state membership. Many nation-states portray migrants' transnational ties as threats to social cohesion and to national security. According to the research findings, it can be stated that public and political debates which discredit migrants' transnational activities as contradictory to integration are misleading. Migrants' transnational ties and activities with co-ethnics or co-religionists in the country of emigration do not hinder their 'emplacement', rather, transnational and diasporic activities can even be an important form of social engagement in the host country. The research findings also show that the dynamics of people's transnational political practices cannot be regarded simply as a function of the political atmosphere in the immigration state. For instance, in Germany, it was noted that Turkish migrants usually favour an understanding of integration which does not contradict their transnational practices.

The research revealed the central role of transnational economic networks and border-crossing mobility of labour in the emergence of transnational spaces. This became evident, in particular, in the cases of Turkey-Germany and Estonia-Finland. The opportunity structures appeared to be different in migrants' sending and receiving societies. In many countries, even skilled migrants are discriminated against in the labour market due to the poor recognition of overseas educational qualifications. While transnational migrants are perceived as a potential market many immigrants who have created small businesses, in other cases, enterprises in the source countries may be first steps towards wider international markets. In all cases but particularly in the cases of Morocco-France and India-UK, it became evident that the transnational economic spaces are decidedly asymmetric. For instance, there is a significant contrast between some discriminating situations experienced by some Moroccans in France and the surprise, even embarrassment, of some French people facing positive a priori recognition in Morocco. Such a contrast shows how the symbolic dominating relations are internalized in the Moroccan-French space.

A further actual issue (both in emigration and immigration countries) concerns migrants' remittances and their economic, social, and political effects. The research indicates that, in 'old' sending countries (e.g., India, Morocco, Turkey) the transfer of financial and material remittances plays a vital role in the development of local communities, but it was also found that migrant remittances move in the opposite direction as well. Further, in the India-UK case, the evidence suggests that models of transnationalism which assume that migrants will contribute to socio-economic development in their countries of origin or 'homelands' through personal and collective remittances are doomed because those who are regularly sending remittances and contributions represent a small section of Punjabis in the UK. Besides, in the local communities, remittances tend not to be channeled towards 'productive consumption' such as education or healthcare.

Potential Impact:
The phenomena surrounding transnational migration are giving rise to an increasing political and academic debate throughout the world. In order to provide information of the ways in which people' transnational activities play a role in Europe and other continents, TRANS-NET brought together perspectives on emerging (Estonia-Finland), established (Turkey-Germany) and long-standing (India-UK, Morocco-France) transnational spaces. Due to the project's unique study design, the research results provide national and international decision-makers, policy-makers and authorities with an adequate understanding of the causes, effects and future impacts of transnational migration and evolving societal transformation processes.

The research findings will help national, European and international policy-makers to design effective rules and innovative management techniques to respond to the current (and prospected) challenges arising in the mobility-driven world. Compared to the previous research, TRANS-NET represents an advance as it provides empirical evidence on new types of migration patterns and gives information on the transformative character of people's transnational activities. So far the changing and transformative character of migration processes and the role of migrants' transnational nets have been little explored.


The dissemination part of the research project (WP3) has been very active. Throughout the project, engagement was developed with relevant policy audience to optimize the impact of the research work. In order to address national and local politicians, authorities and other local actors such as migrants and diasporic groups, a Policy Informing Workshop was organized in each participating country. The results of the project are being used to provide both national, European and international decision makers with a comprehensive and valid insight into factors that determine transnational mobility of people. For instance, the project coordinator, Professor Pirkko Pitkänen and the project manager of the Indian team, Professor S. Irudaya Rajan, are members of the Scientific Working Group on EU-India Mobility Cooperation, established in 2009 by the Indian Council for Overseas Employment and the European University Institute. The dissemination activities also include international academic audience.

A Policy Workshop will be held on 23rd, May 2011 in Brussels, to bring together European decision-makers, policy-makers, NGOs and academics working in the field of migration. The Policy Workshop will be organized in collaboration with the MAFE project (MAFE - Migration between Africa and Europe, ).

Policy Informing Workshops

In most cases, the workshops took place before the semi-structured and life-course interviews started. The participants (Parliament members, state officials, local officials, representatives of relevant NGOs, academics, etc.) were informed of the research work and were also used as crucial informants for developing the research setting (research questions, potential respondents etc.). The links on the workshop programmes (national languages) are on the project www -pages ( The dates and venue of the Policy Informing workshops in each participating country 2008/2009 are as follows:

* Tampere, FINLAND: Friday 5.9.2008, University of Tampere

* Tallinn, ESTONIA: Thursday 6.11.2008, Tallinn University

* Paris, FRANCE: In June,2009, University of Paris 8

* Bielefeld , GERMANY: Friday 24.10.2008, Bielefeld University

* Chandigarh, INDIA: Monday 6.4.2009, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh

* Meknes, MOROCCO: Wednesday 17.12.2008, Moulay Ismail University

* Ankara, TURKEY: Saturday 18.10.2008, Patalya Lakeside Resort, Gölbasi

* London, UK: Tuesday 13.1.2009, Central Hall, London SW1 (Presentation, Workshop report)

Finland, University of Tampere

Policy Informing Workshop was arranged at the University of Tampere. In connection to the workshop it was arranged the press release, which the university press secretary also took part in. The Workshop was announced at the university www page, on email lists in the field of migration research and organizations (e.g. on the list of The Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration, ETMU). In addition to this the invitations were sent to some Finnish parlament members and to the coordinators of immigrant work in the City Tampere. The majority of the participants represented the migrant organizations and associations. One parlament member took part in the workshop as well. The participants showed their interests in the project topics and especially in the research design (transnational spaces within country pairs). After the workshop, the participants have been informed about the results of TRANS-NET project by email list.

Estonia, University of Tallinn

University of Tallinn organized the Policy Informing Workshop in connection to the second project meeting, November 2008. This arrangement allowed other TRANS-NET participants to attend easily the Workshop and have input on it. The state level and local government officials, and border guards revealed that there is a need and great interest in information on tendencies of migration in the EU area. The Estonian TRANS-NET project researcher was also interviewed on national radio programme about the project topics.

France, University of Paris 8

University of Paris 8 arranged in June 2009 the workshop where the focus was to construct collaboratively the interview questions for empirical data gathering. The project researchers were intensively planning and implementing also the Policy Informing workshop in Morocco in December 2008 as they participated in it. The participants from different sectors of the society had an excellent possibility in Morocco to discuss on the challenges and needs in migration between France and Morocco.

Germany, Bielefeld University

The research group of Bielefeld University invited national and local policy-makers, authorities working in the field of migration and representatives of migrant organisations to the workshop. The invitation was sent to the representatives of all big German political parties, but especially the representatives of migrant organisations were interested in participating at the workshop. It turned out that the workshop participants were particularly interested in the relationship between immigrant integration and transnationalisation. The main conclusion of the workshop was that there is a need of a differentiated view on integration and transnational relations of migrants. The participants of the workshop emphasised the social and cultural heterogeneity of different migrants and their different pathways of integration. The workshop participants expressed their interest to continue the dialogue started with the policy-informing workshop.

Morocco, the University Moulay Ismail

The Policy Informing Workshop was held at the University Moulay Ismail around the Trans-Net Project opened avenues of cooperation with international and national agencies working in the area of migration and transnational mobility. The announcement of the Workshop was relayed also by national radio. Examples of these partnerships involved the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Consultative Council of Moroccans Abroad and Ministry in charge of Moroccans abroad. The Policy Informing Workshop was also the opportunity to inform local leaders, associations, the press, elected officials, and regional government agencies about the possible uses of project outputs, in particular for policy design and capacity building. The cooperation has allowed many students to do internships at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It has enabled the university to gain support from the Consultative Council of Moroccans Abroad and the Ministry in Charge of Moroccans Abroad in the form of a donation of scientific literature on migration. The workshop also raised the discussion among the partners about the modalities of funding a journal dedicated to the issue of transnationalism and migration.

India, Centre for Development Studies (CDS)

Centre for Development Studies (CDS), in collaboration with Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) organised the policy-informing workshop of the project at CRRID Chandigarh on 6 April 2009. The research issue, objectives, methodology and perceived outcomes of the project was presented to an invited audience, belonging to the academia, administrative society, civil society organisations and media, alongside eliciting valuable inputs from the participants.

Turkey, Koc University

Migration Research Programme (MiReKoc) at Koc University organized a Policy Informing Workshop in Ankara where it presented the TRANS-NET project as well as discussing the Turkey-related migration issues. Representatives from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of State on citizens living abroad, the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Turkish Statistics Bureau, TRT, Central Bank, Ministry of Affairs Security Forces, Turkish Employment Agency, Marmara Union of Municipalities, Zeytinburnu Municipality, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security were present at the workshop. The discussion during the workshop inspired the writing of the second policy-briefing by MiReKoc, which was published and distributed in Turkish and English in the national and international conferences that MiReKoc has attended and/or hosted.

UK, University of Sussex

The University of Sussex arranged a policy briefing workshop in January 2009 at Central Hall in Westminster. It was attended by more than 35 civil servants from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government and Department for Work and Pensions. In addition, there were representatives from Migrant Rights and the International Organisation for Migration as well as the Equalities Commission and Race Equality Unit. At the workshop, the UK project team presented an overview of the proposed research and posed three questions to the delegates concerning the potential within transnationalism for meeting development objectives, both within countries of origin and destination; the challenges posed in terms of citizenship and entitlements to movement, and the relevance to the work of the ministries/departments represented at the event. The delegates identified challenges for governance arising from transnational practices, ranging from issues of social cohesion and balancing security interests, to differences in definitions of citizenship and nationality across countries, and the problem of some countries not granting dual citizenship. However, they proposed a minimal role for the government in harnessing development potential.


The project Coordinator, together with the University of Sussex, prepared in the spring 2009 the project leaflet to introduce the project for interested parties and stakeholders. The leaflet has been delivered in all participating countries.

An article 'International migration transforms both sending and receiving countries' was published about TRANS-NET project by SCOOP project (News Alert Service on Socio-economic and Humanities Research for Policy). It is available on www address The article has brought inquiries and contacts from international media to the project members.

Outside of the university seminars the project researchers have had during the project educational collaboration which aims to integrate research and practice. For example the University of Tampere (Department of Education) planned and implemented together with two Universities of Applied Sciences the course on Local and global competences in the field of health and social sector. The content of TRANS-NET project was one essential base as study material for the group of students, which were vocational teachers and employees wishing to get further understanding on EQF and on intercultural communication.

Two scientific compilations have been prepared. The results of the theoretical-conceptual research (WP1) have been disseminated in the form of a scientific compilation for the use of academics and other professionals. The scientific compilation has been published by the University of Bielefeld in an electronic form. The members of the Advisory Board were invited to make their contributions. Likewise, on the basis of the WP2 (cross-country comparative study) a scientific compilation for policy-makers, authorities and academics has been prepared and will be published by Springer Science-Business Media. In addition, research results have been made available through a variety of regular channels, including journal articles, presentations at conferences and workshops, articles in newsletters, and mentions in the popular press.


The international conferences and workshop organized by the project partners in connection to the project meetings have been essential dissemination forums. The target groups have been policy makers and researchers. These and other conferences, gathering participants from several fields, are the following:

1. Conference title: International Conference Managing Transnational Migration. Comparing Transnational Migration

Policies and Patterns in the World

Date and venue: Thursday 6.11.2008 UusSadama, 5 room 225

Organizer: Tallinn University Institute of Political Science and Governance

2. Conference title: Critical Reflections in Migration research: Views from the South and the East

Date and Venue: October 07-09, 2009, Koç University Founders Hall, Istanbul,

Organizer: MiReKoc, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey

3. Conference title: Migrations, Mobility and Multiple Affiliations: Punjabis in a Transnational World,

Date and Venue: 22-23 March, 2010, CDS

Organizer: Centre for Development Studies, Kerala, India

4. Workshop title: Migration and Migrants from South Asia in the Context of Global Financial Crisis,

Date and venue: 24 March 2010, CDS

Organizer: Centre for Development Studies, Kerala, India

5. Workshop title: Academic Workshop with 'Critical readers'

Date and venue: 3rd December 2010, Gallery 2, Conference Centre, 3rd Floor Bramber House,University of Sussex

Organizer: University of Sussex

6. Conference title: Transnational Relations in the Contemporary World

Date and venue: Monday 31st January, 2011, Pinni A, University of Tampere

Organizer: University of Tampere

7. Conference title: Migration from Turkey to Germany: 50 Years Later

Date and Venue: 21st Janurary, 2011, Rixos Hotel, Ankara

Organizer: MiReKoc, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey

8. The Policy Workshop will be on 23rd, May 2011 in Brussels. The workshop is together with the other 7th Framework project, MAFE (MAFE - Migration between Africa and Europe ).

One important avenue of exploitation for the information about the project is the project's home-page. Throughout the project, information has been made available to external organisations via the Web. The project website ( was launched in August 2008. The database contains the background for the project, research plan, project partners, dissemination activities and products and links to the relevant collaboration contacts. The University of Tampere (P1) has the main responsibility in this dissemination task.

On the www pages of the participating universities, the visitors have been introduced into the project on several pages (e.g. on official website of the MiReKoc which is widely visited website in relation to Turkey-related migration activities, there is a section on externally funded research projects including TRANS-NET, ).

List of Websites:

Contact detail

Professor Pirkko Pitkänen


University of Tampere (Finland), School of Education /Research

Centre on Migration, Transnationalism and Development (DeMi)

Related information

Reported by

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top