The meanings of migration, remittances and gifts: views of Honduran women who stay


Corresponding author: School of Social and Family Dynamics, Program in Sociology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287–3701, USA


In this article we examine the non-economic, emotional meanings that men's economic migration has for the wives and mothers who stay in two rural communities in Honduras. Combining the literature on economic sociology and on the social meanings of relations within transnational families, we identify three areas that allow us to capture what the men's migration means for the women who stay – communication between the non-migrant women and migrant men, stress and anxiety in women's personal lives, and added household responsibilities. Through interviews with 18 non-migrant mothers and wives and qualitative fieldwork in Honduras, we find that women's interpretations of men's migration are not simple, black-and-white assessments. Instead, these are multifaceted and shaped by the social milieu in which the women live. Whereas the remittances and gifts that the men send improve the lives of the women and their families, these transfers also convey assurances that the men have not forgotten them and they become expressions of love.