A New Social Contract: Social Welfare in an Era of Transnational Migration


"The streets of Pilsen in Chicago ... are filled with proof of the transnational activities of their residents," the author writes. Images of roots and family appear in this mural on the side of a building in Pilsen. Credit: Creative Commons/Adam Jones, Ph.D.

Almost every Sunday, Boston residents from the small Dominican village of Boca Canasta get together to work on projects aimed at making life better back home. Over the last forty years, they have raised thousands of dollars to build an aqueduct, fix roads and bridges, and renovate the school, community center, and health clinic. Lately, they’ve set their sights on helping community members in Boston. Finding ways to lower high school dropout rates and rising crime is now their focus. Like many immigrants across the United States, they are putting down roots in the place where they’ve moved while continuing to remain active in the economics and politics of their homeland.

A short drive from Boston, in the suburbs of northeastern Massachussetts, a community of immigrants from the villages and small towns of Gujarat State on the west coast of India have settled in affluent new subdivisions. Even as they work, attend school, and build religious congregations locally, these immigrants are also pursuing Gujarati dreams by opening businesses, renovating homes and farms, and building schools and hospitals in India.

Similar stories are unfolding in immigrant neighborhoods all over the country.

The streets of Pilsen in Chicago, Washington Heights in New York, or Koreatown in Los Angeles are filled with proof of the transnational activities of their residents: travel agencies, stores that wire money to relatives back home, phone cards, and homeland food items. This is because people continue to vote, pray, and invest in businesses in the places they come from at the same time that they buy homes, open stores, and join the PTA in the countries where they settle.


How to Read the Rest of This Article

The text above was just an excerpt. The web versions of our print articles are now hosted by Duke University Press, Tikkun‘s publisher. Click here to read an HTML version of the article. Click here to read a PDF version of the article.

(To return to the Summer 2013 Table of Contents, click here.)

Peggy Levitt is a professor at Wellesley College and the co-director of the Transnational Studies Initiative at Harvard University.

Source Citation

Levitt, Peggy. A New Social Contract: Social Welfare in an Era of Transnational Migration. Tikkun 28(3): 44.

tags: Economy/Poverty/Wealth, Global Capitalism, Immigration, US Politics   
Tip Jar Email Bookmark and Share RSS Print
Get Tikkun by Email -- FREE

COMMENT POLICY Please read our comments policy. We invite constructive disagreement but do not accept personal attacks and hateful comments. We reserve the right to block hecklers who repost comments that have been deleted. We do have automated spam filters that sometimes miscategorize legitimate comments as spam. If you don't see your comment within ten minutes, please click here to contact us. Due to our small staff it may take up to 48 hours to get your comment posted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *