Transnational practices of migrants in Belgium: vector of integration or withdrawal into one's community? (King Baudouin Foundation)

This study provides an insight into the variety of transnational practices developed by people of Chinese, Congolese, Moroccan and Turkish origin residing in Belgium.

Based on the secondary analysis of semi-directional interviews performed earlier and on the analysis of information gained during various focus groups, this study highlights the different areas of activity of preference of these different populations. Thus, while the Turks and Moroccans have developed an intensive transnational activity both in the economic, socio-cultural and political areas, the other groups that have been studied as part of this research find themselves in intermediate positions as far as the intensity of their transnational activities is concerned, but especially in terms of the spectrum of activities deployed. The Chinese have particularly focused their efforts on economic and socio-cultural fields whereas the Congolese have developed numerous activities within the political and development spheres.

The numerous social, cultural and economic practices developed by our respondents are not in any case perceived by those concerned as a questioning of their attachment to their ‘new’ country of residence. According to them, their involvement in the transnational space should be interpreted as the expression of a privileged link with a country and a given population or of a moral duty, especially where the first generations are concerned. If the transnational political involvement of certain respondents is to be seen from the same angle, for some migrants it can be proof of their wish to resolve the reasons for their emigration in order to be able to return to their country of origin.

The study concludes that it is not because migrants have developed activities that are oriented towards their country of origin that they are therefore disinterested in their host country. The experience of numerous respondents has shown that after having increased their economic capital and having acquired a certain prestige within their community and Belgian society thanks to their transnational activities, they feel more valued and more confident in their host society. Their socio-economic position is thus consolidated, and many of them have refocused their activities in Belgium after previously having been heavily involved in the transnational spaces.

More information is to be found in the study that is available in French and in Dutch.

Publication Date:
Fri 03 Aug 2012
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