The family has long been one of the concepts at the heart of migration and immigration research. The settlement of European migrants in North America generated a vast body of research that came to dominate the literature of immigration in the 1970s and 1980s and models based on the American experience were applied to European contexts. In this literature, family ties were shown to play a major role in initiating and perpetuating migration streams, in guiding new migrants in the labour and housing markets (MacDonald and MacDonald, 1964; Tilly and Brown, 1967). At the same time, proponents of the theory of social breakdown of traditional family structures caused by emigration, particularly the Chicago school of sociology and its followers, gave rather a pessimistic if not catastrophic view of social change (Thomas and Znaniecki, 1918-1920; Wirth, 1938; Chevalier, 1967). Research has since demonstrated the innovative ways in which families function despite geographical dispersion of their members (Boyd, 1989; Bryceson and Vuorela, 2002; Chamberlain and Leydesdorff, 2004; Hareven, 2000; Olwig, 2001, 2005; Reynolds and Zontini, 2007; Urunuela, 2002). New technologies and improved communications clearly introduce new parameters within which members of kinship networks gather together, care for each other, disperse, and exchange information and resources. This is not to ignore, of course, confl ict and splits within families, migration then allowing a desired separation of individuals or households (Bonvalet et al., 1993). The dynamics of family relationships infl uence how, over time, members are drawn to one another or keep their distance. The form and content of family obligations have to be understood in such a changing context.