Should You Accept a Friends Request From Your Mother? And Other Filipino Dilemmas

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This paper uses the concept of ‘cutting the network’ derived from the work of Marilyn Strathern to examine the relationship between two kinds of social network, that of kinship and the system of friends constructed on social networking sites. Specifically the material comes from a study of Filipina domestic workers and nurses in the UK and their relationship to their left behind children in the Philippines. A bilateral system of kinship can lead to a proliferation of relatives, while the use of the Friendster social networking site can lead to a proliferation of friends. It is when these two systems clash following the request by one's mother to become a friend that the constraints and problems posed by both systems comes into view. Cases show that it is possible to use social networking sites to help mothers become close friends for their absent children, but more commonly the increasing presence of actual mothers through new media disrupts the relationships that children had developed for themselves to a idealised projection of motherhood.

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