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Free Flow or Morality Bought: On the Construction of Remittances as an Object of Study

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Author(s): Olav Eggebø

Journal: Encuentro
ISSN 0424-9674

Issue: 87;
Start page: 26;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Remittances | Transactions-Actors | Personal Relations

ABSTRACT
This article describes how remittances have been represented in social scientific texts. Social scientists have predominantly linked discussions about remittances to discussions about development, and many observations regarding remittances have been put into theoretical models where their main purpose has been to verifythose models of thought. Remittances have been presented as significant because of the instrumental effects they have for the economy, the society and/or the political system. In this way, discourses on remittances can illuminate not only views onremittances, they can also illuminate intrinsic views of how the world should look like.Remittances have merely been considered in the light of macro models and systems theory, detached from the persons that are in fact the senders and receivers of this money. In this article it is argued that these remittances should not be considered in an instrumental way. The “flow” of remittances is significantly regulated and sanctioned by moral representations linked to structures like household, family and gender. The transactions are manifestations of the personal relations between the actors of the transaction, and cannot be reduced into a model that treats the actorsas isolated individuals.
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