Migrants' social contacts to their countries of origin are explored at the Swedish Social of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. The research project financed by half a million by the Academy of Finland is going on 2016-2020.

University Lecturer in Sociology Östen Wahlbeck has been awarded €480 000 by the Academy of Finland for the research project "Transnationalism as a Social Resource among Diaspora Groups". The purpose of the research project is to analyze the processes through which social resources can bridge the gap between migrants' new and old home country.

Östen Wahlbäck

Östen Wahlbeck.

"We know that social networks play a major role, for example for finding a job in the new home country. The aim of the research project is to find out how these social relationships develop over time and how they can be used as a resource for migrants themselves", says Östen Wahlbeck.

With 25 years of experience in research in ethnic relations and migration, he sees an increased need for in-depth knowledge of how the migrants' social networks emerge and develop.

"The digital development and people's increasing mobility have strengthened transnational networks. It is easy to keep in touch with each other and it appears both in the migrants' everyday lives in the new home country and among the family members who have remained in their country of origin."

As an example of the importance of social networks, Wahlbeck raises the labor migrants coming from, among others, the Philippines.

The link between Filipino migrants and the remaining family members is one of three case studies conducted within the framework of the four-year research project. The project also maps the social networks that exist among Finns migrating to other European countries and the networks of second generation Kurds active in Kurdish diaspora organizations in Finland and France.

"When the project is completed, we will have knowledge of the nature and intensity of the social networks that the different groups have. It will be exciting to see what factors promote and which hinder transnational relations to arise and develop.”