Social orphanhood in the context of modern migration processes in Ukraine
The dissertation presents sociological conceptualization of the phenomenon of
«social orphanhood» in the context of modern labour migration. It introduces the
definitions of the basic concepts that make up this conceptualization and its theory.
The dissertation presents the results of an empirical study of how parents’ labour
migration affects the lives of their children and suggests ways of preventing the
spread of social orphanhood in transnational families.
The research is conducted on the basis of the author’s theory on such
sociological theories as the concept of transnational migration, structural
functionalism and phenomenological paradigm. Therefore, the current wave of
Ukrainian labour migration is defined as the predominantly reciprocal short-term or
long-term temporary migration of one or several family members who cross the
border and support family-friendly relationships by different means of
communication. There are two categories of children that can be classified as social
orphans. The first category includes special demographic group of children who have
been orphaned with living parents. Their parents have been deprived of parental
rights in accordance with established procedure as a consequence of social,
economic, political, moral or psychological reasons. These children are protected by
the state or society. The second category includes children who «legally belong» to
their families but are in fact deprived of full-time care because parents do not fulfill
their obligations or abuse their parental rights. As a result it impedes the normal
development of children and sometimes poses a threat to their health and life. It is
proved that a transnational family that functions in the fourth wave of Ukrainian
labour migration involves both physical and psychological gap between parents and
abandoned children, and therefore may create a new form of social orphanhood.
According to this theory, the author’s concept of social orphanhood in the context of
transnational migration has been offered. It is a special state of childhood of labour
migrants’ children. Their parents accomplish transnational family practices, but do
not fulfill their responsibilities concerning education, development and socialization
of their own children due to their physical absence as a result of short-term or long-
term temporary migration. Accordingly, the author considers children of labour
migrants as a special socio-demographic category or group of children deprived of
full parental care due to parents’ overseas employment for a certain period of time.
It is theoretically substantiated and empirically proved that implicit social
orphanhood is common in the context of the current fourth wave of transnational
migration. This form of social orphanhood implies parents who constantly keep in
touch with their children, have a legal duty to educate them, although working abroad
cannot properly perform it due to their physical absence.
Key words: migration processes, labour migration, transnational family, children
of labor migrants, social orphans, social orphanhood.