In this answer, I will discuss the role of emotion in Sociology; emotion and Transnational studies, and Emotion in Migration. Since I want to study the post-settlement emotions of migrant community in Saskatoon. Studying migration and transnationalism from emotions will enrich my research. In a recent study conducted by Knudson, Sarkar, and Ray (2016), they posited that social science studies had offered a detailed understanding of challenges faced by the migrants. Most of these studies concentrate on providing as an assessment of post-migration guidelines such as obtaining gainful employment, educational credential, etc. However, little, if any research so far has delved into the area of emotion/feeling state of the migrants. Hence, introducing this emotion perspective will be a fruitful addition to the field of migration.
Emotion and Sociology:
Emotion has been studied by anthropologist and psychologists (Appadurai, 1996). Sociology as a discipline studies social phenomena, and emotion is a social phenomenon (Barbalet, 2001). Sociologists argue that the nature of emotional experiences is unique to every culture, society, and group. Hence, emotion, as a social product, can be examined and explained sociologically (Barbalet, 2001). The literature on Sociology of emotion embraces myriad perspectives to prove that emotion is a “social thing” (Kemper, 1978). According to Barbalet (2001), the 1970’s and early 80’s witnessed a series of scholarly work in the area of Emotion and Sociology. Conflict Sociology by Randall Collins (1975) was one of the major works in the area of emotions (Turner, 2009). Works of Arle Hoschchild (1979; 1983); Denizen’s On Understanding Emotion (1984) are considered as classics that introduced the study of emotion as a field in Sociology (Barbalet, 2001). Migration is a social phenomenon that involves emotions. The emotion of the migrants is fundamental to the transnational studies and migration. Transnational activities such as keeping in touch with family across borders, and transnational homemaking practices through cooking (Somerville, 2013) or maintaining transnational ties through popular culture, for instance, the Indian diaspora is a huge fan of Bollywood movies, song and dance (Sarkar and Gagne, 2016).AR1 Thus, it is essential to study emotions in transnational aspects.
Transnationalism and Emotion in Migration:
According to Schiller, Basch, and Blanc-Szanton(1992), Transnationalism is defined as “the process by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement.” (pg1). In other words, transnationalism is a web of political, economic, cultural, social practices, relationships, and identities that migrants built across the borders of the nation (Guarnizo, 1997). Scholars also suggest that many immigrants’ work on strengthening their ties with their homeland, rather than dissolving them (Portes and Guarnizo, 1999). With transnational families becoming more common in today’s globalized world, the concept of cross-border living is becoming extremely popular so much so that it is dissolves the possibility of an individual’s country of birth, life, and death remaining the same (Skrbis, 2008). Hence, with the rapid growth of transnational families, contemporary transnational studies report that the immigrants today maintain a thicker link with their country of origin than their predecessors. Maintaining this contact across borders has been made easier by the advent of new technologies in the arena of communication, cheaper long-distance calls, airfare, communication through email (Faist, 2000; Portes and Guarnizo, 1999; Vertovec, 1999). Horst (2006) reports that with the growth of affordable character of mobile phones, immigrants have been reported to call up home daily, and sometimes more than once a day. This practice of communication has encouraged sharing intricate details about each other lives across borders at a frequency that is new to the field. Wise and Velayutham (2017) found that with the advent of Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp regular calling has become very cheap and smooth. Hence, this creates space, where intimacy is re-created, and affective involvement with people and places living so far has become more intense. Apart from this, transnational ties also involve transaction and interaction at various levels between the host country and country of origin such as the constant flow of good and money from the host country to country of origin (Levitt, 1996). Apart from the constant flow of material object, transnational flows also refer to the flow of ideas, culture aspect and social relations (Schiller et al.,1992). For instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge (1988) described the recent trend and evolution of “public culture” in India, which they find apparent in the public goods and services, entertainment, food that predominantly cross the national boundaries. They argue that this “public culture” is an outcome of India’s cultural exchange and interaction with other countries. Thus, they emphasize the complications, contradiction, and the back-and-forth transferring of cultural meanings, practices, and ideas that form the core of transnational flow (Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1988).
From these examples, one can see the amount of emotional investment the transnational families or the arena of transnationalism involves in various areas be it in transnational home practices, maintain ties with family back home, invest in the country of origin, and/or maintain dual citizenship. In other words, transnational migrants take part in numerous activities negotiated by the flow of symbolic ties and material objects to recreate their transnational social fields (Wise and Velayutham, 2017). So far scholars have studied transnationalism about identity formation and concept of belongingness, but the arena of emotion in transnational studies have been ignored in this area. I will try to connect emotion with transnationalism, and, in doing so, I will borrow Kara Somerville’s (2008; 2013) and Wise and Velayutham (2017) work on transnationalism. All these scholars have studied transnational practices in the Indian migrant community settled in the Toronto, Canada and Singapore respectively.
Emotion plays a significant role in building transnational identities and communities (Bryceson and Vuorela, 2002). This study highlights how the care, concern and social ties with family are recreated transnational social field through “emotional labor” (Hochschild,1979; 1983; 2008). The “emotional labor” is created transnationally through remittance of cash, goods, phone calls, and gifts on a very regular basis (Wise & Velayutham, 2017). However, Wise and Velayuthum (2008) propose the term “transnational affect” where they study how non-material objects such as emotion influence the construction of transnational relationship. In their study of Indian immigrants in Singapore, they found that the spread of emotion produced in transnational interaction boosts and strengthens long-distance relationships across borders (Wise and Velayuthum 2008). Sara Ahmed (2004 a) defines emotion in the context of transnational studies as, “emotions do things, and they align individual with communities—or bodily space with social space—through the very intensity of their attachment” (P.119). Wise and Velayutham (2008; 2017) echo similar sentiments and argue like some previous transnational scholars such as Bryceson and Vuorela (2002); Yeoh and colleagues (2005);Parrenas (2005) that emotions are rooted in and flow of objects, gifts, letters, phone calls, money, transnational homemaking and caregiving practices, and visits to home country. This can be explained through some sociological theories of emotions, which contrary to the biological theories, opines that emotions are socially constructed and they are not naturally endowed ( Turner, 2009). Scheff (1990) studied the role of “social emotions” such as anger, shame, pride, etc that control human beings and lead humans to follow the social norms. He argues that pride signifies “intact bond” whereas shame signals “broken bond” or “threatened bond”(Turner, 2006; 2009; Wise and Velyautham, 2017). Hence, these emotions such as “pride”, “shame” and “embarrassment” can explain certain emotions and the activities that are an outcome of these emotions, that individuals involved in transnational and long distance go through.
Kara Somerville (2013) in her work, “Transnational Care-giving Practices among Indo-Canadian Women Migrants: Creating and Maintaining Families through Cooking and Healthcare” qualitatively analyzed the in-depth interview of Indian women residing in Toronto on how they meet and cater to their family’s food and healthcare needs by maintaining ties and using their family networks in India. She found that many of her respondents still like to consult their family physician from back home and prefer bringing more “authentic” spices and other ingredients core to Indian cooking from India rather than buying it from a local grocer. In do so, Somerville (2013) that women expended more manual, mental, and emotional work while maintaining transnational home making practices. Furthermore, studies in this area highlight the relation between gender roles, care, and emotional labor (Wise and Velayuthum, 2017). Hochschild (1979) explains that these emotional labor put in by women explain the norms and also design the emotional “feeling rules” that explain how one is supposed to feel in a particular situation. Hochschild (1979) disobeying the “feeling rules” comes with the risk of being socially boycotted, which might cause shame and embarrassment (Secheff, 1990). Hochschild (1983; 2012) argue that the emotion such as “care” is becoming increasingly commodified among customer service oriented profession such as cashiers, air hostess, salesperson. She also informs that in the western world, individual “outsource” loads of work in lieu of money that require “emotional work and/or engagement” such going to dating and sleep coaches, eating at a fast-food chain on a regular basis (Hochschild, 2012, hiring in-home care for elderly (Wharton 2009; Hochschild, 2012). For instance, the “emotion work” put in by Asian manicurists at nail salons in NYC (Kang, 2010).
In summary, emotion is core to the study of transnationalism. On one hand, some scholars question the strength of emotional bond as there is no physical contact involved (Wise and Velyautham, 2017). On the other hand, this assumption is rejected, Baldassar (2007) in her study of Italian immigrants in Australia argue that “staying in touch” and the exchange of moral and emotional support between family abroad and back home also creates an intense emotional bond.
Emotion in Migration
Recent studies in the area of ‘science of emotion’ in migration have challenged the traditional findings that sociology and emotions do not have a n harmonious relationship (Crocker, 2015). “Science of emotion” in migration posits that emotions such as stress are common amongst immigrants across lines of race and socio-economic status. Moreover, it discusses the challenges that individuals face after landing in a new country. The emotional sufferings such as stress, fear, loneliness, depression, anger, and trauma are common amongst immigrants (Crocker, 2015). Moreover, in many cases, this had led to declining physical health (McClure et al., 2013). At present, scholars studying emotion in-migration state that certain reactions are indispensable to humans, and, are always present in every situation. The terms emotions and feelings are closely connected. ‘Feelings’ is defined as ‘the condition of being emotionally affected,’ and one of the definitions of ’emotions’ is ‘to excite or move the feelings of.’ This proposes an overlap between these terms, as they define stimulus of the physical movement of migration from one location to another, which can ironically strengthen connection and attachment (Gray, 2008). As discussed in previously, migration fuels numerous emotions and success in the labor market for a migrant is a positive feeling. However, numerous studies analyzing the status of immigrants in the Canadian labor market (see Hira-Friesen, 2014; 2015, Goldring, 2009; Reitz, 2001;2005, Reitz and Banerjee, 2007; Somerville and Walsworth 2010) have reported that skilled immigrant labor faces a massive skill discounting and deskilling on arrival. Since their work experience and education are unrecognized in Canada; they end up in precarious, unskilled occupation. Failure to integrate into the labor markets leads to frustrations amongst these immigrants, who report that their expectations remain unmet. Furthermore, immigrants granted admission based on their education, and skills to migrate in Canada express their anger and vulnerability when they realize huge discrepancy between what they were told and the real picture (Somerville and Walsworth, 2009;2010). Thus, they go through a myriad of emotion (mainly negative) that is yet to be studied in a very open form in the literature. I will first discuss the theories of Migration and Emotion and then try to link them with job market outcomes. Traditionally, emotion and migration have been addressed from a transnational perspective, which studies immigrants in different geographical locations (Basch et al., 1994). Numerous studies see the feeling state/emotion of the migrants and how they maintain the connection between people back home and themselves (Basch et al., 1994). For instance, Somerville (2013) Wise and Velayutham (2017) analyzed in great details about how the Indian migrants in Canada and Singapore maintain emotional bond across borders with their family back home. A similar study was done by Baldassar (2007) in regards to the Italian immigrants in Australia. In her study, Svasek (2008) studied the feeling rules guiding the migrants’ moral expectation and family obligation that they need to fulfill. She highlights that migrants expend emotional labor while maintaining their family in the host country and maintaining trying to take care of the family back home. Ehrenreich & Hochschild (2003) build on Hochschild (1979) concept of emotional to study the role of women who migrate as sex workers, domestic help, nannies are extremely emotionally demanding (Wharton, 2009). Amy Wharton (2009) uses the term “emotional proletariat” to describe these jobs because these jobs require extreme deference and workers have little to no power because they are controlled by the needs of their employers. Furthermore, she reports that majority of the workers in these professions are from a disadvantaged group (Wharton, 2009). McKay(2004)studied the Filipina domestic workers who migrated to Singapore, leaving behind their family. These workers send money and goods along with a lot of emotion back home (McKay 2007). These jobs show the existing inequality in the area of migration, race, and gender. These women who migrate to take up such emotionally demanding jobs, while maintain their familial ties back home. Often times, these migrants end up hiring even more economically disadvantaged women to take care of their family and children back home (Huang & Yeoh 2007). Hence, emotions in migration have studies family, household, maintenance of transnational relationship, and remittance of cash and goods. Little, if any, studies have seen the emotion presented by qualified immigrants’ who did not fare well in the host countries, especially, in the Canadian context. Acure (2013) tried to study emotion and labor market participation of immigrants in European countries. His study spanned from 1998-2002. He studied a group of young and highly skilled labors migrants such as engineers, teachers from Russia who worked as unskilled laborers in the fish processing industry in Norway. While analyzing the interview, emotion emerged as an important theme, immigrants described their frustration through emotional responses such as “I became a nobody” , while discussing “The loss of self”, which hampered their self confidence and dignity that happened due to deskilling (Friedberg, 2000). They also reported that this deskilling, brings a negative emotion about the host society as they feel that they are not being integrated as “a full member of the society”. Finally, the spoke about the emotion “shame” and “embarrassment” that was a major outcome of deskilling and skill discounting Acure (2013). However, this study is at a very nascent stage, and I would like to replicate this study in the Canadian context, as majority of migrants choose this destination in pursuit of a better lifestyle, but are often dejected after failing to procure gainful employment (Hira-Friesen, 2015). Hence, it is natural that they would go through emotions such as shame, anger, embarrassment, and a scientific study connecting migration, emotion, and labor market outcome in Canada will contribute to the migration literature. Thus, I feel incorporating emotion will enrich my studies
Emotion focused research has its own challenges in the field of migration. First, there are very few studies done in the are of emotion and migration, especially related to labor force participation. This posses a challenge for me as a future researcher as there are very few reference point or literature to guide my research. Also, majority of the study that see emotion use a very qualitative approach making it less reliable as the researcher may use their own biases to name or tag a particular emotion, while the respondent may not portray that. For instance, a laughter may signal happiness, embarrassment, or sarcasm. Finally, according to Goffman (1959) as humans we engage in presentation of self, where we portray the most socially acceptable self front stage. Hence, depending on where we are, or who we are taking to, we may not express our real emotions and portray emotions appropriate for the situation as guided by “feeling rules” (Hochschils, 1979). For instance, an immigrant who is otherwise sad about their job may not always show it publicly. Hochschild (1979; 1983) concept of “deep acting” and “surface acting” is a very common thing amongst immigrants. For instance, Wettergren (2015) studied emotions, emotion work, and emotional careers in the context of refugee (involuntary migrants) from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia to Italy and Sweden. She collected her empirical data from 2006-2009, and as an ethnographer, she observed the interaction between the ‘Frontline Workers’ (social worker in the field of migration) and people seeking asylum. She reported that the experience of leaving the home country because of challenging circumstances and suffering from trauma, fear, insult, and shame cause negative emotions amongst these immigrants. Hence, the author portrays migrants as passive individuals rather than active and creative ones. Moreover, she reported that that migrants use their emotion work to achieve two outcomes: a.), they hope that their status and power will increase by migrating to a different country; b.) they work to keep their self-respect and self-esteem intact against any insult, while waiting on their asylum application or upon arrival. On entering Italy or Sweden, these migrants try to identify themselves with the host society and try to pick up the host society’s norms either by ”surface-acting” or “deep-acting” to be more acceptable (Wettergren, 2015). Whether, the challenges will remain similar while trying to study voluntary worker is a question that cannot be answered yet. But, studies have shown that voluntary migrants often hide their hardships or negative feelings about their situation in the country of settlement while corresponding their relatives back home because they fear to worry their families back home. Moreover, migrants also fear going back to their countries of origin as it might make them look like a failure and raise questions about their migratory decisions. (Pettys and Balgopal, 1998). In summary, many times, emotion-focused in migration research may encounter something very controversial that may put the respondent in a very uncomfortable situation. For instance, talking about downward mobility and low wages of skilled immigrant. Hence, the best way to avoid such situation is “Denial” ( Zerubavel, 2007) and this could be another challenge to the data collection
Therefore, I think as a researcher the challenges of the emotion focussed research could be reduced by using some data science techniques: Sentiment Analysis that uses opinion mining tools such as NLTK python (Knudson and colleagues, 2016). Osgood et. al., (1957) used the Affect-Control theory used the concept of “affective space” where two opposite adjectives are paired such as happy vs sad and other semantic differential. This cybernetic model can be objectively used to study emotion signals and how humans change their behavior in various contexts such as work, home, interaction with people etc. The Affect-Control theory predicts emotions that people will “not feel” rather than what they “will feel”. For instance, if a person expresses the emotion that he is not supposed to feel in a situation, he will be known as emotionally deviant.
In conclusion, even if the study of emotion possess challenges in the field of migration, it is a very important aspect because migration as a process is very rich in emotion, and immigrants go through myriads of emotion from the time they decide to migrate till the end. For instance, Recently a quantitative study by Browne et al (2017) stated that immigrants in Canada and reported emotional problems depending on their martial and parental status.