Task Forces

12.12.2017.

Diaspora, Transnationalism, Transculturism and Inter-Cultural Communications

By Orlando Mardner

 

 

 

 

Author

Mr. Orlando Mardner CSM Dpi CPO PFSO SSO MIPSA

 

Diaspora, Transnationalism, Transculturalism and Inter-Cultural communications as new forms of social capital

 

 

Professional Security Academy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

Over the years, there have been various developments and advances in the forms of social capital. The changes in the processes can then be related varied impacts of social capital towards globalization and empowerment of societies, groups of people, and individuals at various levels in the society. Consequently, the contemporary society has realized the formation of new forms of social capital, which include Diaspora, Transnationalism, Transculturalism and Inter-Cultural communications. Thus, this paper investigated the roles of and impacts that these new forms of social capital create within societies, in terms of the developments and embracement of social capital. In order to achieve this objective, a comparative analysis of primary and secondary evidences of both negative and positive effects of these forms of social capital was conducted. Thus, the overall content of the paper is focused on highlighting how each component plays a role in contributing to social capital, and the potential impacts, theoretical and practical, on the society. Overall, the author illustrates the positive effects of Diaspora, Transnationalism, Transculturalism and Inter-Cultural communications within societies, which include: empowerment of the local countries both socially and economically through financial and non-financial diaspora remittances; sharing of knowledge, ideas and values that impact positively on the lives of the diaspora community’s counterparts in the country of origin; building an integrated and assimilated communities that fosters worldwide security and coexistence; and helping in the fight against insecurity cases such as terrorism. On the other hand, these forms of social capital results in marginalization, labour exploitation and segregation among the societies; especially where the immigrants do not have better opportunities to offer to the majority of the receiving societies or in cases where they are desperate to better their lives having fled their countries due to pressures from political, poverty and other socially-castigated pressures. Therefore, this paper is useful in appreciating the sociological and anthropological advances in the contemporary society in terms of the role of various forms of social capital.          

 

Keywords: Social Capital; Diaspora, Transnationalism; Transculturalism; Inter-Cultural communications

 

 

 

 

1.0 Introduction

In the contemporary society, and specifically within the social sciences and humanities, the emerging forms of social capital are a reality; thus, they have gained a prominent place in the society. As a concept, social capital has recently become fashionable, where both economic and cultural capital has become central in the social networks, as well as the norms of reciprocity (Crossan et al. 2004, p. 181; Torcal and Montero 2006, p. 131). Notably, there have been varied descriptions of the concept of social capital (Crossan et al. 2004, p. 181; Torcal and Montero 2006; Woolcock 2001; however, in this paper, the description of social capital depicts the view of Adler and Kwon (2002) and OECD (2001). Thus, social capital involves activities through which governments and societies seek economic growth (Adler and Kwon 2002; OECD (2001). Nevertheless, the two entities are increasingly getting concerned with the impact of economic growth on both natural and social environments (Adler and Kwon 2002). This description includes the concern on how various groups within a specific society (which may include ethnic, gender, or age-related) all work towards sharing economic progress; including other concern on the new, hidden forms of poverty or exclusion, quality of health and life of children, women, men, and elderly, and a group within society who are confronted by either physical or social disadvantage (Adler and Kwon 2002). Therefore, in order to appreciate the whole concept of social capital, both Robert Putnam’s concept and Pierre Bourdieu's have been put into perspective; where the regional accumulation of social capital leads to useful accumulation of social capital (Putnam 1994; Putnam 2001); and the theoretical dimensions of social capital such as economic, cultural and the social aspects (Lareau 2001), are considered as addressed by Siisiainen (2003).

Inasmuch as the new forms of social capital may present varied views on their impacts in the society, which is adversely referred to as negative; it is no doubt that majority of the forms of social capital are beneficial to an economy and the society in totality. Notably, Adler and Kwon (2002) established that some aspects of the social capital have the potential to significantly decrease the cost of transactions as well as encourage trust and cooperative behaviour, which in this case, trust and cooperative behaviour are embodied in the inter-firm networks (p. 8). For example, social capital exhibited in specific jurisdictions like Australia; portray a great interest of a larger number of government agencies, research institutions, community and other social welfare groups, and the general community development practitioners (Commonwealth of Australia 2002). Thus, it is envisaged in this paper that there coexist positive and negative effects of diaspora, transnationalism, transculturalism and inter-cultural communications as the new forms of social capital.

Overall, the measurement of these new forms of social capital will provide insight into the social functioning of the society as well as how the networks and even links can be effectively utilized within a given social stratum to help contribute towards having the desired positive outcomes for a community and more importantly for individuals and groups.  Besides, several states and territory governments will find this paper useful in appreciate how they can embed social capital and community building as well as the whole government approach to their workable policies.   

 

2.0 The impacts of new forms of social capital in the society: diaspora, transnationalism, transculturalism and inter-Cultural communications

In this section, the author considers the new forms of social capital in terms of their role in the contemporary society and how their conceptualization impacts the society. The specific aspects addressed include how the new forms of social capital portray both positive and negative effects on the society and as conceived within the idea of social capital. The descriptions of the forms of social capital take into consideration the economic performance with regard to ambitious claims that constitute an independent and as a factor of production that shapes the economic growth of a given society. Thus, the structure of the networks and social relations are included as the aspects that bring much attention to the social capital among social scientists and economists.     

2.1 Transnationalism as a new form of social capital

Transnationalism is widely known as the social phenomenon, which interconnects between people as well as the receding social and economic significance of boundaries of various countries (Hearn 2015). According to Basch et al. (1994), transnationalism is “a process by which migrants, through their daily life activities create social fields that cross national boundaries”. This implies that transnationalism involves the diffusion and the extension of economic, political and social processes by individuals amongst themselves and beyond the sovereign jurisdictional boundaries of countries or states. For example, there are reports that social structure in different communities is increasing becoming transnationalized (Robinson 1998). Otherwise, some scholar believes that the concept of transnationalism points out to the weakening of the control a nation-state has over its borders, territory or the inhabitants (Bauböck 2003; Guarnizo and Smith 1998). Therefore, it is important to appreciate the role of processes that contribute to transnationalism such as economic and globalization effects on the corporation that operates at the global level. Moreover, the development and successful establishment of the theory of transnationalism through the 1990s to date can be seen to involve migrants and the effects these migrants have in both countries, of origin and where they settle, as well as the impact they create among the societies where they settle.

There are various impacts of transnationalism, in terms of the societal coexistence, the global security, and the transfer of cultural practices and social capital. An aspect that we cannot fail to realize is that the immigrants are often not delinking themselves from the home country; and thus, they keep and even nourish their linkages to their place or origin (Itizigsohn et al. 1999). Further analysis of the effects of transnationalism indicates that the concept does not only involve populations but also the multiple ties and linkages between institutions across the borders of various countries. Thus, it is imperative to appreciate the fact that transnationalism is linked to the global forces, and the role of new technologies and advances in communication and diaspora activities contribute to the enhancements of inter-cultural exchanges, and thus, the creation of a new dynamics in social capital.

The anthropological perspectives of the effects of transnationalism include various aspects such as (1) the development and spread of global capital (Space 2006); (2) shifting of social capital and labour across the borders (Hannam et al. 2006); and (3) spread of both identity and cultural models in either direction (Space 2006). An ethnographic evidence of the effects of transnationalism is the settlement of Mexicans, Caribbeans, Central Americans and other South Americans in the United States, where all these groups identify themselves as Latino and not Americans. It is, therefore, possible that they embrace their culture and consequently influence the neighbouring communities or influenced by their neighbours, and thus a social change is experienced in such a case.

Is transnational migration a national and global security risk? Well, Fauser (2006) investigated the security risks associated with the transnational migration and the securitization of the policies on migration is countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The world is increasingly experiencing threats of drug and human trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism, and many of these activities have been linked to the transnational migration. Notably, Fauser (2006) recommends securitization policies which outline policies on how the transnational migration and effects should be curbed. The enactment of the security policies to protect the transnational migrants as well as control their activities in various countries would ensure that such challenges to the economic and social systems that are created by the migrants are not addressed. Gerstle (2004) indicates that terrorist bands and other migrant groups have the potential to harbour and support terrorists, and thus encourage those terrorists to emerge in public discourses as well as in policies. As at this point, it is evident that transnationalism creates a social perspective, where immigration of societies is linked to challenges in the social systems and securities of the foreign countries. Otherwise, it is not obvious that individuals who migrate to other countries are up to no good, and thus, should be protected by the laws; instead, some of these people migrate from poverty, social or family pressures, and political persecutions. 

In the context of globalization and how transnationalism (specifically the transnational corporations) affects the societies, these corporations are associated with damages on a country through an exploitation of the workers and their resources. Most of the transnational corporations may exploit cheap labour offered by the migrants who may have run away from poverty and other social pressures. Such exploitation may eventually degrade such humanity, especially by exploitation their vulnerability towards living a stable life in the foreign countries. Some companies (such as Nike in India) have been found to engage in such activities, whereby they move into developing countries with the intention to exploit cheap labour, generate high profits and eventually establish a large budget that can promote their brands in other countries (Claude and Weston 2006). In contrast, in the UK, there is a strong relationship between social capital and transnationalism, especially among Britons and young Pakistan Muslim women who live in Bradford (Sanghera and Thapar-Bjorkert 2017). Sanghera and Thapar-Bjorkert (2017) there are unprecedented advances in the modern media and telecommunication, where transnationalism is omnipresent in the everyday lives of these migrants; whereby, these second-generation migrants share faith-based social capital to resist transnationally gendered expectations, practices, and values. Thus, the UK government used the women migrants from Pakistan to help fight radicalisation among the imams in the mosque; and this can be seen as the achievement of transnationalism as a social capital.                      

Overall, transnationalism has a significant implication in the way we conceptualize various global activities involving immigrants. Thus, it is important that countries appreciate the role of transnational movements or immigration; where such activities help create a sense of mutual obligations between countries. Howard (2011, p. 21) explains that social ties and exchange of services as propagated by transnationalism enable individuals to benefit from such relations through gaining access to social capital such as ideas, information concerning the economic, social and human capital. Thus, the benefits of transnationalism in the social capital can be associated with those of the diaspora, where transnational diasporas have been established to constitute a very critical component of the transnational community who create common practice (Howard 2011). Otherwise, the negative effects of transnational diaspora include creation of a divisive society, which may then create a link for possible violation of human rights.    

2.2 Diaspora

In the last decade, diaspora became an overly used terminology, which eventually resulted in overgeneralization of the word and the concept of diaspora as a human and social capital (Ataselim 2014). Logically, diaspora engagement cannot be generalized; however, Ataselim (2014) indicates that the diaspora initiatives and engagements defy generalization. In this paper, the generalization of diaspora is not held due to the nature of the humans, where a population that shares a common ethnic identity may forcefully or voluntarily leave their settled country and finally settle in other areas, such as in the foreign jurisdictions. Thus, the whole idea of diaspora requires that societies talk globally but think locally; whereby various cultures and homelands play a critical role as a human and social capital. Thus, the generic application of diaspora is that it refers to the communities of migrants who live or are settled permanently in a foreign country, but the communities are aware and still maintain contacts with the country of origin (Kuznetsov 2006). Besides, Ataselim (2014) argues that the contemporary society works at both global and local levels, where Diaspora provides a link to both, due to its flexibility. For example, through a diaspora, a society is capable of enabling new institutional forms to effectively address issues related to local developments so that the whole idea of ever-evolving global agenda can be realized (Gupta 2005). Otherwise, the major concern is, how important diasporas are to the conceptualization of social capital?

Diaspora is associated with financial, human and social capital (Ataselim 2014). In terms of the social capital, the incorporation of diaspora as the new form of social capital implies that resources are created for others through the already established social networks and connections (Kuznetsov 2006; Ataselim 2014). Thus, in the contemporary society, diasporas are mainly used to give back home in the form of remittance to various entrepreneurial investments, which may include financial and non-financial remittances such as philanthropic contributions and technology transfer respectively (Ataselim 2014). Notably, the impact of diasporas as a social capital is measured in a similar manner, with the impact of financial remittance being felt on the entrepreneurial investments. It is therefore important to appreciate the social networks that are involved in the diasporas and the increasing involvement of diasporas in the economic growth of the local economies. For example, the World Bank reports a worldwide diaspora remittance to developing countries to amount to $429 billion in 2016 (The World Bank 2017). The financial remittance by the diasporas has not only been witnessed among the developing countries but also among the developed countries. For example, in China, it is reported that Diaspora has built a virtual community through languages, associations, ethnicity, and Confucianism, which all contribute to the development of social capital, particularly from the Chinese Diaspora living in the Southeast Asia (Cheung 2004). Thus, the concept of diaspora and continued embracement of diaspora community is not only beneficial to the individual societies of communities but also to the general economy of a specific country.             

Another aspect of diaspora as a source of social capital has been witnessed in the increase in veritable explosion of Diaspora conferences, symposia, and conventions, which have attracted concerns from various jurisdictions with the US presenting an exemplary performance in such activities (DiasporaMatters, 2017). Also, Portugal and Africa are in the forefront in the establishment of a Global Diaspora Council and Diaspora Conference respectively (DiasporaMatters, 2017). It would not be of any use to incorporate such initiatives if at all the concept would not benefit either party. Therefore, it is no doubt that the idea of Diaspora and local development is a key piece of economic recovery as well as economic development, which comprise even the social remittance in the form of values, practices, and ideas. Thus, most governments are coming to the realization that for economic and social resources to be researched and solicited, economic and social remittances must be incorporated into the society through engagement of the Diaspora to contribute towards social capital.     

The incorporation of diasporas in the social capital concept present  some negative effects, where the impacts are either realized locally or in the foreign country. First, the concept of diaspora remittances (specifically social remittance, which include ideas, mindsets, practices, attitudes and values, that are mediated by the diasporas from the host to home country (North-South Centre of the Council of Europe 2006 in Gakunzi 2006)), has a strong effect in the economy and thus the society. According to Gakunzi (2006), the social remittance by the diasporas are in the form of systems of practice, social capital, and normative structures contribute to the development of the home countries. Notably, in the social capital, diasporas contribute to the social and political norms, which are then incorporated into the local societies and eventually changing the shapes of the social structure, institutional relationship sand structures, and the rate and pattern of economic development (Gakunzi 2006). Suppose such ideas and views shared in the form of diaspora remittance were radical and security threat, or other form of criminal activities, it is evident that the society will realize a disintegrated community that would end up threatening the entire world’s security as well as contribute to victimization of other population with good motives with their diapoara remittances.  Further, social remittance is also affected by various challenges including political disinterest in the social capital of the Diaspora residing in various countries (Gakunzi 2006); for example, social remittance from countries perceived to be politically incorrect as per the government in place. Besides, there are adverse macroeconomic effects of Diaspora and social remittance to the local economy, where there is a possible increase in the income inequality and reduction in labour supply (Özden and Schiff 2006).

Overall, social remittance (Diaspora) as a form of social capital constitutes a critical external financing strategy for the recipient country reduces poverty or social imbalance in the recipient society and improving the country’s economic conditions. Moreover, remittance of social resources improves the ability of households or the community to participate in other social activities that can improve the local physical infrastructure and access to various health care and other social benefits.                   

2.3 Transculturalism

The concept of transculturalism is one of the integrative and overarching concepts that have been employed in the analysis of migration, especially across borders. Transculturalism, just like diaspora and transnationalism, have various impacts in a given country and within a specific group or gender in terms of their contribution to the social capital. Notably, transculturalism is particularly rooted in the quest to define common values and shared interests across national and cultural borders (Slimbach 2005). Thus, transculturalism simply highlights the creation of the new cultural phenomenon in the society, where communities or societies benefit across borders through sharing of values and cultural practices that all contribute towards social capital and globalization (Allolio-Näcke 2014).

Transculturalism exhibit various characteristics, which constitute both negative and positive benefits to social capital. According to Lewis (2002), transculturalism emphasizes on various problems that are associated with the contemporary culture, which include the contemporary relationships, power formation and transitory nature of culture. For example, transculturalism have created various impacts right from the time the Caribbean and Asian people started helping to build England from the 70s - 80s to present to Terrorism and interlocking communities that refuse to accept western culture (Kim 2011). In this instance where these diasporic communities are treated with force to accept the western culture, it simply shows the negative effects of the transcultural towards ensuring social capital. Besides, in Germany, transculturalism has been witnessed among Indian immigrants, where the Indian students and travelers who passed through Germany were mobilised and politicised by the active communist groups; thus, requiring the attention of the German regime and the Indian exile networks (Cho et al. 2013, p. 143). Therefore, it is important that government take keen consideration into looking after the social welfare of the migrants who have diverse cultural values and practices. Otherwise, women tend to suffer more from mistreatments that are propagated by the transcultural practices, especially when they are forced to abandon their cultural values and adopt the western cultures.  

Despite the identified cases of how transculturalism negatively affects the societal coexistences and how the specific jurisdictions have handled the effects of diaspora communities, it is important to appreciate the positive effects transculturalims towards the development and fostering of social capital. In cases where the communities share beneficial trans cultures, it is no doubt that a mutual relationship and benefit is realized amongst these societies. For example, with respect to development in technologies and globalization, learning of languages that are used in the social media such as English in a specific country, may impact positively on the social capital within that society; particularly, in terms of creating awareness amongst the community as well as empowering them with ideas on how to improve their lives. Besides, transculturalism can help fight radicalisation or terror-related activities in countries especially where the diaspora transcultural never sides with a specific moral perspective over another.                   

2.4 Inter-Cultural communications

Since the development of the “race-relation-cycles” as a concept in the sociology of migration in the 1930s and 1940s, there are various assumptions that have been made concerning the roles that inter-cultural communication play in the society. Nauck (2001) investigated the possible outcomes of the intercultural contact, where it was found that inter-cultural communication results from simulations of communities, especially between immigrants and the locals. Such cases have been established in the North American countries as well as Germany, where the behaviour of the migrant labourers from various countries proved that assimilation is related with the difference in the distribution of individual resources through the level of education and communication (Nauck 2001). This points out to the need to appreciate how intercultural communication affects the social capital, especially in the contemporary society where literacy levels are considerably higher among the migrants as well as the active roles of the diaspora groups in the respective countries. Thus, various scholars have established that intercultural communications foster integration, assimilation as well as negative effects such as segregation and marginalization (Nauck 2001; Inguglia and Musso 2015; Chi and Suthers 2015).

Integration simply requires that there must be the high supply of both social and cultural capital of the migrant families (Nauck 2001). Thus, there is the need for a mode where parental investment addresses the optimal placement with both segments in the society (majority and minority) irrespective of gender are provided with a comparably better opportunity structures for their social placement. Notably, it is through proper intercultural communication where such practices and processes can be achieved, with the society appreciating the role of migrant cultural communication and accepting to allow such opportunities create an adequate social placement (Inguglia and Musso 2015). Further, in terms of inter-cultural communication and assimilation, there is the need for high cultural capital just like internal social capital, where the migrant families that have high internal social capital are required to be part of the receiving society through contributing towards better opportunity structures for the local community. Otherwise, segregation and marginalization result from intercultural communication, where low social and cultural capital results in lack of opportunities in the receiving society, especially where the migrants are not providing better opportunity structures (Nauck 2001).  Moreover, marginalization, which is marked by the absence of social capital, results from the absence of opportunities and resources for the migrants to foster inter-cultural communication. Overall, intercultural communication has the ability to create direct and noticeable effects on the strategic flexibility in how societies coexist; whereby, both personal and social interactions are enhanced, solving misunderstandings and mistrust amongst the communities concerned, and enhancing and enriching the quality of globalization and civilization.        

3.0 Conclusion

 The paper presents specific aspects of how new forms of social capital; diaspora, transnationalism, transculturalism, and inter-Cultural communications; impact the contemporary societies. The main aspects of social capital that is portrayed in this paper include the role of globalization, diaspora communities, and cross-border cultural exchanges and communication towards the creation of social capital in various societies. Notably, all these new forms of social capital are critical in creating societies that embrace different cultural values for immigrants and the local communities as well as the countries of origin of the immigrants. Nevertheless, there are various negative effects of diaspora, transnationalism, transculturalism and inter-Cultural communications; which are associated with segregation and marginalization among other effects.       

 

 

 

 

 

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