Migrations from Bulgaria towards the rest of the world have had their fair share of academic attention. They are also the focus of a number of state policies and of the public awareness directed by media. Nevertheless, the study of those left-behind (families of migrants – their parents, grandparents, children) remains insufficiently studied. Therefore, this becomes the focal point of our research under the framework of the project – “Still in Bulgaria. Cultural and Social Effects of Labour Mobility and Migration on Bulgarian Society (1990-2019) (LEFT-BEHIND)” subsided by the Bulgarian National Science Fund (BNSF) (№ КН-06-Н40/9 – 10.12.2019).
Our team is led by the idea that the migration flows characterizing the social situation in the country post-1989 have their undoubted demographic, but also cultural and socio-economical reflections on the home country. All this has multi-dimensional replications locally – on the “small” communities and basic social units (family). Therefore, our work is aimed at researching the influences which the “imported” foreign cultural, social and economic models have and how are they perceived and adapted by the left-behind. Among our topics of interest are:
– economic changes (the participation of young people in the labour market considering the financial support of their migrant parents; the transformations in the quality of life; the changes in consumption
patterns and economic activity; the effects on agriculture in the rural communities);
– cultural changes (changes in gender roles within the families due to migration; these concerning children and the effects on their educational status and migration attitudes; transformations in the
traditional family values and general social morals and principles; changes in the family ritual system);
– social changes (decline in birth rates and marriages; changes in the marital models; alterations in the levels of expertise and educational background of workers as well as in the levels of their participation in the labour market; migration attitudes of the return and potential migrants);
– “foreign” influences on the Bulgarian cultural heritage (changes in the festive and everyday intangible culture);
– establishment of transnational and familial communities.
These core problems will be analyzed through the interplay between micro- and macro-economic
conditions and demography of both the local communities and the wider Bulgarian society. To achieve a comprehensive analysis, we will use qualitative methods (interviews, observations) to gather data. The results will enrich the knowledge on the topics accumulated by a number of scientific fields so far such as ethnology, anthropology, economy, demography, cultural heritage. The “shift” in the focus which the project suggests – this time pointed “inwards” towards the left behind at the country of origin, instead towards the migrants themselves – will also be a solid basis for future research on the topic which remains to this moment “under the scholar radar”.