‘My life is not to be called a failure’: how family reputation in the origin affects return considerations among South Asian migrants in the Gulf

Katharina Klaunig, Saba Karim Khan, Malte Reichelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Families are an important factor to consider when trying to understand if and when labor migrants decide to return to the origin. Research has mainly focused on how families provide incentives to return. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, stories about return migration decisions among male South Asian migrants in the Gulf reveal that families can exert substantial pressure on migrants to stay abroad, even during times of crisis. Using in-depth interviews with maigrants in the UAE, returnees and family members between 2020 and 2022, we find that social expectations of migrants to maintain or build family reputation through actions abroad, in the context of broader communities of origin, is a key factor in deterring migrants from returning. Migrants and their families in the origin often seek to continue signaling a successful migration project, particularly by telling stories of entrepreneurial success or of being embedded in the destination through strong and resourceful networks. Returning early from a migration project, even during the pandemic, can be interpreted as a failure and risks negatively impacting the family's reputation. We observe that those who return early, despite family pressure to stay, face significant social sanctions from family and community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • family
  • izzat
  • labor migration
  • reputation
  • Return migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '‘My life is not to be called a failure’: how family reputation in the origin affects return considerations among South Asian migrants in the Gulf'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this