Social Networks and Migration

Far West Nepalese Labour Migrants in Delhi

By Susan Thieme

In Far West Nepal - an area extremely impoverished also by Nepalese standards - labour migration to India has been an integral part of the livelihood strategies of the majority of people for several generations. This research is based on case studies among male and female migrants in Delhi coming from four villages of Far West Nepal. The analysis focuses on selected aspects of the migrants' daily lives, such as working and living conditions, management of loans and savings, and remittance transfer. It was found, that the whole migration process is mainly facilitated by transnational kin and friendship networks. To grasp the geographical and social dimensions of the migrant's lives an integrative approach in joining the sustainable livelihoods approach, Bourdieu's theory of practice, the concept of social capital and the concept of transnational migration was developed. Further results show, that the majority of the migrants are male. The unskilled migrants occupy a distinct niche, in which men have been working as watchmen and car cleaners for generations. The job market is highly organized since jobs are handed over and sold within networks. If wives of migrants are in Delhi for longer periods, they engage in housekeeping. For financial needs migrants established their own informal savings and credit associations. Although migration is firstly seen as an opportunity by the migrants, it can as well perpetuate debt and dependency and entail that they remain migrants for their whole lives.


272 pages

Publication Date: 3/22/2006
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9783825892463