Social networks and social capital in the immigration process into Hungary

Irén Gödri, Demographic Research Institute, Budapest

Ethnic and social networks act as important catalysts of international migration throughout the world. In Hungary, highly regulated and suppressed migration processes were replaced after the 1989 transition by a powerful immigration that was determined by the inflow of migrants from neighbouring countries, primarily Romania. Beyond political and economic factors, the social networks played an important determining role in this process. Nowadays, the dominant patterns of immigration to Hungary are secondary migration in the form of family reunification, and chain migration, which works through kinship and friendship ties. The poster reveals the effect of social networks in the pre-migration phase, during the migration itself and in the post-migratory phase. In all three of these phases the key concept is the social capital provided by these social networks. The source of data is a representative survey carried out in 2002 among immigrants coming from the neighbouring countries who were granted immigrant status in Hungary in 2001. Before migration the networks influence the decision-making process: the attitude of the micro-level social environment, the model by the contact persons who migrated before and the resources (assistance, information) provided by networks are determining. The social networks, which are active during migration, i.e., the persons who move together, as well as the help received directly after the migration, play an important part in the initial adaptation of migrants. Long-term integration, however, is also determined by networks the migrants develop in the receiving society. The poster demonstrates differences between socio-demographic groups in the availability of social resources and social capital at subsequent stages of migration. It also reveals (using logistic regression) variables influencing the probability of possesing different types of social capital. Finally, using elements of social capital in a cluster-analysis, specific immigrant groups are identified and characterized.

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Presented in Poster Session 1