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Remittance networks and stratified reproduction

Remittance networks and stratified reproduction

Ryan Schram

Mills 169 (A26)


September 6, 2017

Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/1002/6.1


Colen, Shellee. 1995. “‘Like a Mother to Them’: Stratified Reproduction and West Indian Childcare Workers and Employers in New York.” In Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction, edited by Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, 78–102. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Care chains

Just like the production of commodities for Western markets is now highly globalized, so too is the commodification of care also globalized.

There are commodity chains of reproductive labor, or “global care chains” (Hochschild 2000).

Commodity chains are assembled by capitalist firms using container ships. How are care chains created?

Sending so much more than money

Remittances are transfers of cash from person to person between countries, usually by a migrant worker sending money home to family or relatives to support them.

Remittances are, in other words, gifts of money. They are ways of doing kinship when you can't be physically present to provide the care you normally would in your role as a family member.

From a macro perspective, remittances are also a major part of the contemporary global economy, especially from the perspective of the so-called developing world, where many immigrants come from.

Gifts make the world go round

  • In many sending countries, remittances sent back are well over what the country receives in foreign development aid.
  • In many of these countries, remittances are equal to or greater than what the country earns from exports. These countries, in other words, participate in global capitalism mainly by exporting people.
  • 133 billion US dollars was sent overseas as remittances in one year (2015).
  • In the same year, Dominican Republic received 5.1 billion dollars, or about 7% of the total value of its economy.
  • In 2015, globally, over US$ 582 billion were sent home as remittances.


Hochschild, Arlie Russell. 2000. “Global Care Chains and Emotional Surplus Value.” In On the Edge: Globalization and the New Millennium, edited by Anthony Giddens and Will Hutton, 130–46. London: SAGE Publications.

A guide to the unit

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