Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting


Family, Life Course, and Society | Migration Studies | Sociology


The normative conception of care work is described through qualities of nurturance, love and warmth in the intimate relationships of family members. However, the work of caring for family draws from a range of affects, from warmhearted to reticent. Applied to studies of transnational families, scholars have shown that children of migrants demonstrate resentment and indignation towards their parents abroad because of their absence. Based on the definition of care work as nurturance, transnational children narrate the emotional distance to their migrant parents with cynicism. Yet, children left behind still attend to the necessary work needed to keep their families functional despite emotive dissonance. This paper explores the labor of maintaining transnational families in spite of the positive or negative emotional charge of caring. Adding nuance to the literature on care work within the transnational family, I argue that care work is still work even if family members do not express that work with love. I seek to untangle the idea of care work as nurturing or loving; and instead present examples where care work is cold to establish the idea that caring is work that is allocated no matter the moral underpinnings. To offer a different framework to understand hostility in the care work transnational families, I use a social reproductive labor framework to analyze the emotions involved with caring in a transnational family. I provide evidence from my multi-sited ethnography of care work in Filipino transnational families to demonstrate care work carried out within strained relationships.