WorkShop 10: Transnational family making - children, young people and migration

Twelfth Mediterranean Research Meeting 2011

Transnational family making: children, young people and migration

directed by:

Maria-Carmen Pantea

'Babes Bolyai' University, Romania

pantea@policy.hu

Flavia Piperno 

CeSPI Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale, Italy

flavia.piperno@cespi.it

 

Abstract

 

Whilst children and young people are often at the core of the migration flows toward EU countries (‘on the move’, ‘left behind’ or as main ‘rationale’ for migration), they do not always receive the proper academic interest. This workshop aims to explore the migratory experiences of families (including children and young people) and to examine how policy-makers and service-providers assist children and families in this process. The workshop aims to bridge the gap between otherwise separated scholarships on immigration and emigration, by exploring the understanding of migration from home and host societies.

What are the main patterns of migration and how do they influence children and young people? To what extent is migration changing the new transnational family dynamics? How are children and young people embracing the new roles and what are the social expectations exerted upon them (be it in home or host countries)? How the different patterns of parenthood from a distance impact on children lives and on their migratory trajectories? How the needs of transnational families impact and transform the offer of social and educational services in the origin and arrival country? To what extent are children’s specific needs, addressed by (trans)national social and migratory policies?

The workshop welcomes research exploring children, young people and parents’ own experiences of migration, but also papers that critically examine the policy provisions and social interventions aimed at children and young people as well as to their parents in the origin and arrival countries.

 

Workshop Description

Intellectual rationale:

Migration from countries of South East Europe, Middle East and North Africa, toward various EU countries is an influential social, economic and political phenomenon (Morawska, 2000; Wallace and Stola, 2001; Van Moppes, 2006). It touches upon the lives of people both in sending and host societies. It shapes family relations, modifies community development and influences social services and policy choices.

This workshop will explore the intersection between (e)migration and families (including children and young people) from a sociological and a policy perspective. It examines the dynamic involved in doing family across borders, the roles of children and young people and the policy implications of transnational family making.

 

***

 Families are far from being unified entities. Not all family members make the same choices and have the same understanding of migration. Children and young people are often at the core of this process: be it as main ‘rationale’ for parental migration (Boehm, 2008), or as actors of integration in host societies. However, it is not always that their participation is receiving the proper academic interest.

On the one hand, the international research on migration has been massively concerned with incoming migrants, often understood as autonomous individuals. This scholarly tradition that considers migration as an individual pursuit was later contested by the feminist scholarship (Hondagneu-Sotelo 1992 cf. Silver 2006). It can also be interpreted as an incomplete and (arguably) biased Western construct.

On the other hand, the preoccupation with children remaining in home countries is more recent and largely with reference to the migration from Mexic and Philippines to US (Nguyen, Yeoh and Toyota 2006; Hochschild 2000; Parreñas 2001, 2005). The effects of migration in EU for the communities in Euro-Mediterranean area have been rarely explored (Piperno and Stocchiero, 2006).

However, to different degrees, children and young people do intervene, take part, adapt or react to (parental) decisions to migrate. Besides, instances of unaccompanied migrant children in Europe are strengthening the idea that migration cannot be analyzed without a look at children’s actions and reactions (Piperno, 2006, 2007). For the time being, however, children and young people entered the research agenda mainly in relation to the debates on accommodation versus assimilation. Issues of language proficiency, cultural choices, educational policies and social integration of first and second-generation immigrant children have been largely researched. Children and young people’s lived experience of migration in the context of family life remained a rather silent area.

In the final analysis, one could argue that regardless its focus, the existing research is to a large extent one-dimensional. The two instances of migration (emigration and immigration) have been rarely put into dialogue and even more rarely, with reference to children and young people. Nevertheless, this represents a legitimate area of research, with relevant social and policy implications.

 

***

The workshop is motivated by the idea that new approaches toward migration, family and social policy are likely to emerge when the experiences of emigration and immigration are put in dialogue. It aims to bridge the gap between otherwise separated scholarships on immigration and emigration, by exploring the understanding of migration from home and host societies. It builds upon the experience of countries with a longer history of immigration and searches to generate a more complete understanding of this phenomenon, by bringing it into dialogue with the experiences coming from Middle East, North Africa, Southern and South-Eastern Europe.

The underling idea is that despite being rather invisible in research, children and young people do participate in large-scale population movements or are a ‘rationale’ behind them. This workshop aims to look into the lived experiences of parents, children and young people experiencing migration (directly or indirectly) and to examine how policy-makers and service-providers assist children and families in this process. In doing so, the workshop will bring together theoretical and empirical research coming from Middle East, North Africa, South-Eastern Europe and EU.

The workshop aims at contributing to the advancement of knowledge in five main areas, some more recently emerged, namely: sociology of family, sociology of childhood and youth, migration studies and social policy. It will provide an opportunity to advance the theoretical and comparative discussion with regard to the transnational family making and the place of children and young people in this process. First, it aims to bring visibility to previous silent experiences of families (including children and young people) with a direct or mediated experience of migration. Second, it explores current and potential policy developments in assisting transnational families.

 

Type of Papers and the kind of potential participants:

 

The workshop encourages contributions that address the sociological and policy approaches toward migration, the role of children and young people in this process and the further dilemmas and tensions generated. It welcomes papers addressing issues including, but not limited to, the following:

 

  1.  The family dynamics in the context of migration:The workshop is interested in papers bringing a more refined understanding of the way family members rely, adapt and make sense of mobility and social change. It welcomes papers looking at parents’ understanding of childhood, at parental care that emerges following migration and at the dynamics of transnational care provision. To what extent is migration changing the new transnational family dynamics? How are children and young people embracing the new roles and what are the social expectations exerted upon them (be it in home or host countries)? How the different patterns of parenthood from a distance impact on children lives and on their migratory trajectories? How is transnational care provision experienced by parents and children themselves? To what extent are these experiences able to speak about broader social transformations in the very definition of childhood and parenthood?
  2.  The social/ cultural representations emerging in the process of (e)migration by exposure to a culture with dissimilar social constructs. The workshop will include papers exploring areas where different cultural understandings of childhood/ parenthood are put into dialogue, via the migration process. Such papers may explore the (new) ideology(ies) of childhood/ parenthood that are being generated during migration (eg. in the context of moving from a society that prioritizes the interest of the kin/ group, to one that values individualism). Papers examining the social representations of migration in home and host countries (eg. via media) are, also, of interest. How parental migration is socially constructed (eg. issues of parental sacrifice, the drive toward ideal childhood, victimization of children ‘left behind’, migration as a family/ individual (autonomous) choice etc.). To what extend the cultural meanings of childhood are changed/ challenged, in the process of migration to “the West”? Ultimately, what are the potential social costs/ benefits of these constructions?
     
  3. Policy implications and potential developments: The workshop aims to create a space for exploring the connections between local and transnational approaches toward migration. By looking at the dynamics of care drain, the workshop examines how the needs of transnational families impact and transform the offer of social and educational services in the home and host societies. It analyses the extent children’s specific needs are being addressed by (trans)national social and migratory policies, the main policy challenges and future directions. How the needs of transnational families impact and transform the offer of social and educational services in the origin and arrival country? To what extent are children’s specific needs, addressed by (trans)national social and migratory policies? Ultimately, the workshop represents a forum for discussing the political implications attached to various policy choices in regard to migration.

The workshop is addressed to both junior and senior scholars with an interest in migration, sociology of family, childhood studies and (transnational) social policy. It aims to have a balanced geographical representation and welcomes contributions coming from various areas (South East Europe, Middle East, North Africa and EU). Joint papers linking the issue of migration in both home and the host societies are welcome. The workshop encourages an interactive environment, able to promote further cooperation. In particular, it aims to bring together scholars interested in developing joint research in the field of migration.

 

References cited:

 

Boehm, D. A. (2008). “"For My Children:": Constructing Family and Navigating the State in the U.S.  Mexico Transnation”. Anthropological Quarterly 81 (4): 777-802.

 

Hochschild, A. R. (2000). Global care chains and emotional surplus value. On the edge: Living with global capitalism. W. a. G. Hutton, A. London, Jonathan Cape.

 

Morawska, E. (2000). "Transnational Migrations in the Enlarged European Union: A Perspective from East Central Europe." EUI Working Paper RSC,(2000/19).

 

Nguyen, L. et al. (2006). "Migration and the Well-Being of the ‘Left Behind’ in Asia. Key themes and trends." Asian Population Studies 2(1): 37-44.

 

Parreñas, R. (2001). "Mothering from a distance: emotions, gender, and intergenerational relations in filipino transnational families." Feminist Studies, 27(2): 261-291.

 

Parreñas, R. (2005). "Long distance intimacy: class, gender and intergenerational relations between mothers and children in Filipino transnational families." Global Networks 5(4): 317-336.

 

Piperno, F. and Stocchiero, A. (2006). "Migrants and Local Authorities for the EuroMediterranean Transnational Integration." CeSPI Working Papers 23/2006.

 

Piperno, F. (2006). "Welfare for whom? The impact of care drain in Romania and Ukraine and the rise of a transnational welfare."

 

Piperno, F. (2007). "The impact of female emigration on families and the welfare state in countries of origin. The case of Romania." Migration Studies 44(168).

 

Silver, A. (2006). Families Across Borders: The Effects of Migration on Family Members Remaining at Home. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

Van Moppes, D. (2006). "The African Migration Movement: Routes to Europe." Migration and Development Series(Working Pape).

 

Wallace, C. and Stola, D. (Eds.) (2001). Patterns of Migration in Central Europe, Houndmills.

 

Page last updated on 07 October 2010