Transnational peer relationships as social capital: mobile migrant youth between Ghana and Germany

Laura Ogden*, Valentina Mazzucato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A growing proportion of youth in the Global North are of migration background, many of whom engage in mobility across countries, through which they establish and maintain transnational networks of peers. While young people's local peer relationships have been established as a source of social capital, studies have to date ignored the role of transnational peers. This is largely because young people's mobility has been over-simplified, obscuring mechanisms that enable transnational peer relationships to emerge and thrive. Drawing on 14 months of ethnographic, multi-sited fieldwork in Germany and Ghana with 20 young people of Ghanaian background (aged 15-25), this paper employs a mobility lens to show how transnational peer relationships provide social capital to migrant youth. We find that, through these relationships, migrant youth gain (1) educational motivation, as has been found in the literature on local peer relationships, and (2) transnational frames of reference, which is particular to transnational peer relationships. As such, we argue for an expansion of the concept of peer relationships to include those built and maintained through transnational mobility in order to generate a more comprehensive understanding of migrant youth's support systems and the valuable social capital that transnational peer relationships provide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-361
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022


  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Transnational youth mobility
  • peer relationships
  • social capital

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