“My granny lives in a computer”: Experiences of Transnational Grandparenthood

Two girls on a video call with their grandmother

Emigration is increasingly becoming a reality for South Africans. To date, research on emigration has largely focused on the economic effect and the associated loss of expertise in the country. To a lesser degree research has focused on the devastating effects of distance and the lower intimacy levels on intergenerational relationships of transnational families. The relationship as it was known has changed, face-to-face communication is replaced by technology-mediated communication (TMC). Using open-ended interviews, this qualitative study used a thematic analysis to explore the personal experiences of South African grandparents, as they transitioned into their role as transnational grandparents (TNGs). The theoretical framework underpinning this research was an ambiguous loss. “Missing out” was a central theme identified, which featured throughout the study like a golden thread.


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