Transnational Care Strategies, Transnational Care Problems – A Pilot Study on Migration and Care in a Romanian Community

This pilot study is supported by Munich University and the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and is conducted in collaboration with Juliane Sagebiel (Munich University) and Ana Muntean (University of the West, Timisoara).

One feature of the feminization of migration over recent decades has been the employment of many women from less affluent countries in private households in Western Europe as cleaners, childminders, and carers for the old and the sick. In Germany those working in the care sector are often migrants or transmigrants from the formerly socialist states of Eastern Europe, whose remittances represent an important source of income for their families and communities in the country of origin. But what impact does transnational migration have on care in the country of origin? Very little is yet known about the structural repercussions of the east-west "care drain" (Hochschild 2002) in Eastern Europe.

That is the starting point for this pilot study, which investigates the effects of the current mass emigration of the Romanian middle generation on care structures there. The pilot study for a major transnational research project focuses on two issues: Firstly, the positive and negative effects of current migration on care in the migrants’ home country, analysed in a case study in a Romanian community at the individual, family, institutional, and communal levels. Secondly, the consequences for social work, investigated by examining how care matters are defined, described, and explained in this community; what actors, groups, and institutions perceive what care needs (and which do not); and how local institutions attempt to resolve any care problems that may arise.