How do parents and children care for each other when they are separated because of migration? The way in which transnational families maintain long-distance relationships has been revolutionised by the emergence of new media such as email, instant messaging, social networking sites, webcam and texting. A migrant mother can now call and text her left-behind children several times a day, peruse social networking sites and leave the webcam for 12 hours achieving a sense of co-presence.
Drawing on a long-term ethnographic study of prolonged separation between migrant mothers and their children who remain in the Philippines, this book develops groundbreaking theory for understanding both new media and the nature of mediated relationships. It brings together the perspectives of both the mothers and children and shows how the very nature of family relationships is changing. New media, understood as an emerging environment of polymedia, have become integral to the way family relationships are enacted and experienced. The theory of polymedia extends beyond the poignant case study and is developed as a major contribution for understanding the interconnections between digital media and interpersonal relationships.
1. Introduction 2. Philippines at the Forefront of Globalisation 3. The Hidden Motivations of Migration 4. Crafting Love: Letters and Cassettes 5. The Cultural Contradictions of Transnational Motherhood: The Mothers’ Perspective 6. The Children’s Perspective 7. Technologies of Relationships 8. Polymedia 9. A Theory of Mediated Relationships 10. Appendix: A Note on Method
"[A] compelling read about the ‘connected transnational family’ … The most compelling aspect of this book, this reader would argue, is its simultaneous engagement with a broad range of entangled issues. It convincingly puts mothers/children, migration/communication, mediation/relationship, past/present/future as well as theory/research practice into close encounter throughout." - Nicole Shephard, LSE Review of Books
"Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller seem to have formed a dream team when they embarked on their mutual research project on transnational families and the role of ICTs ... In my view, the book succeeds in what many authors fruitlessly pursue: deriving convincing theory from an abundance of vast qualitative data. It is a highly engaging book that is rich in detail without drowning the reader in it. Its empirical and theoretical innovations make it a highly recommended book for any scholar working on media and migration, long-distance communication and the increasingly complex media environments that enfold us." - Kevin Smets, Communications
"An exemplary and groundbreaking study, with contributions to theory and our understanding of polymedia in everyday life, this stands out as an extraordinary read on the technology of relationships." - Zizi Papacharissi, University of Illinois-Chicago, USA
"This fascinating, richly detailed book investigates the role that fluency across multiple digital platforms plays in enabling mothering and caring to be sustained at a distance. A genuine breakthrough." - Nick Couldry, Goldmiths, University of London, UK
"With deft weaving of interview material and theorization...Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller have produced an important and useful theoretical intervention that advances our understanding of the social life of transnational communities." - Radha S. Hegde, Media, Culture, & Society