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Kinship networks and other ties of goodwill and mutual reciprocity constitute a substantive influence on the migration process and exploring the extent to which they bear on the decision by migrants to select specific destinations forms the subject matter of this paper. The role of kinship networks as a form of social capital in international migration is an aspect that appears with limited nuance in the migration literature. In all its forms, migration has become an issue that needs attention and nuanced analysis of its role as a livelihood option, a strategy to fulfil vital labour needs and one that continues to shape the economy and society of the SADC region in general. This paper ensues from a study conducted in two areas i.e. the Zimbabwean province of Matabeleland South and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007. Using in depth interviews and observations the study found evidence suggesting that in the face of increased human movements across international borders kinship ties become significantly altered and amorphous, and assume a more advanced role as social capital that aids the migration process. The study concluded that kinship networks are an essential component of the decision making by migrants and there is need for more empirical evidence in understanding the dynamism and fluidity of kinship taxonomies and relations in the face of forced migration from Zimbabwe.

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Conference paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date



migration, kinship networks, social capital