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Degrees of separation: informal social protection, relatedness and migration in Biswanath, Bangladesh

Gardner, Katy and Ahmed, Zahir (2009) Degrees of separation: informal social protection, relatedness and migration in Biswanath, Bangladesh. The Journal of Development Studies, 45 (1). pp. 124-149. ISSN 0022-0388

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00220380802468587


This paper argues for a more precise and context specific understanding of mechanisms of ‘informal social protection’ in Bangladesh. The context is a ‘Londoni’ village in Sylhet which has high levels of internal and overseas migration. The economic boom caused by the latter provides important employment opportunities for people from much poorer areas of Bangladesh, who have moved into the area. Yet, as our findings show, the extent to which the poor can call upon the help and protection of rich overseas migrants depends upon the degree of closeness to, or separation from, them. This is marked both through real and fictive kinship as well as geography: those that come from nearby become ‘our own poor’, whereas those from further away are treated as ‘outsiders', not qualifying for significant ‘help’. As the paper argues, access to hierarchically ordered places is vital for the sustainability of precarious livelihoods. Yet whilst geographical movement is an important survival strategy for the poor, it is only when social relations are established with wealthy patrons that it can be said to contribute to informal social protection.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2013 08:32
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:59

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