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Session Overview
JS_RN13_RN35_07: Relatives at a distance: Interrelations and doing of migrants' families
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Kenneth Horvath, University of Lucerne
Location: BS.1.25
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, First Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Doing Family Across Borders: Role of Routine Practices, Traditions and Feasts in Lithuania

Vida Česnuitytė1,2

1Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania; 2Vilnius University, Lithuania

The research aim is to identify practices dedicated for strengthening family relationships, practices that are typical to the multi-local families with members across borders. The relevance of the topic is conditioned by the following factors: (a) diversity of family formation and daily life spread in the beginning of twenty first century encourage search for alternative family definitions and research methods; (b) theoretical approach on family practices and doing family suggests alternatives for the conceptualization of multi-local families; (c) lack of knowledge on family practices of multi-local families. Theoretical approaches of family practices (Morgan, 1996; 2011), doing family (Smart, 2007), family networks (Widmer, 2006; 2010; Jallinoja & Widmer, 2011) applied in the research.

Empirical analysis is based on two databases – data of representative quantitative survey and data of quota survey. Quantitative survey represent adult Lithuanian population. Persons with various migration experiences selected in quota surveys. Both surveys carried out in Lithuania between June-October, 2018 within the national research project “Global migration and Lithuanian family: family practices, circulation of care and return strategies”. Family practices like daily routine, traditions and feasts explored. The research results reveal that various family practices differently influence relationships among significant persons assigned as family members. Though, the same family practices effect differently relationships within networks’ of persons who have (direct or indirect) migration experience and who not. Finally, persons with migration experience have less common practices with Ego, though existing family practices are more intensive.

Keywords: family network; migrant families; family practices; doing family.

Familial Displays Across Borders: The Case of Lithuanian Parents-Children Living Separately

Irena Juozeliuniene, Irma Budginaite Mackine, Ginte Martinkene

Vilnius university, Lithuania

The scripts of ‘good family’ denote structural organization and the ways family should be done. Building on the concept of ‘family display’, we focus on transnational families and examine how emigrants undergo the boundaries, which are set up by 'low mobility' discourse, and convey to their underage children and elderly parents that their actions constitute 'doing family things' and their relationships are 'family relationships' (Finch, 2007), regardless of the geographical distance.

We tested how the concept could be applied on the level of quantitative data analysis and draw insights from a survey carried out in Lithuania in 2018 using quota sampling (N=406), targeting families with children under 18 at the time of migration (mothers from mother-away families; fathers from father-away families; parents from both parents-away families) and adult children abroad with elderly parents in need of care in Lithuania. Data analysis focuses on three areas that provide answers to questions how mothers/fathers’, daughters/sons’ and designated carers’ displays are done; what methods are used and how often it is done?

Research findings reveal gendered ways of familial displays. With regard to mothers/fathers’ displays, research findings disclose different parenting strategies. With regard to daughters/sons’ displays, gender differences are observed in the ways care responsibilities are delegated and overseen. The authors offer the way to understand how migration induced structural changes highlight designated carers as significant persons in doing and displaying family. The paper contributes to migration and transnational family studies by expanding understanding how family display is enacted in different child-care/elderly-care familial arrangements.

Closeness Despite Distance? Parent-Child Relationships in Europe

Ronny König, Bettina Isengard, Marc Szydlik

University of Zurich, Switzerland

Intergenerational cohesion and support across the whole life course are important characteristics of parent-child relationships. Next to financial support, care and help or support of grandchildren, contacts between parents and their children are an important form of intergenerational solidarity in contemporary societies. Traditionally, different kinds of contacts as well as their frequency strongly depend on geographic proximity. Therefore, increased spatial mobility may reduce (opportunities for) intergenerational solidarity. However, nowadays families might be able to face the challenge of greater geographical distances and time restrictions by employing various new communication technologies.

Although contacts between parents and their offspring are not only relevant for the individuals themselves but also for society in general, little is yet known about the determinants and country-specific differences in general and the situation for multi-local families in particular. Due to the relevance of intergenerational contacts as an important precondition for many other forms of solidarity, the presentation addresses the impact of geographic distance on contact frequencies in an international perspective.

The empirical multilevel analyses are based on pooled data of the fifth and sixth wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) including 19 countries. The research questions are: (1) How intense are parent-child contacts in general, and (2) how do they vary by country and geographic distance? (3) Which impact has the usage of modern communication technologies on maintaining intergenerational contacts, and (4) which further micro-, meso- and macro-structural determinants are relevant for more or less intense intergenerational contacts in European families?

Questions of Belonging across Borders: Continuity and Change in Transnational Family Memories

Anna Schnitzer

University of Zurich, Switzerland

The focus of this contribution lies on family memories of transnational families and on the question of the significance of these memories for the conceptualization of the family as a unity. Family memories can be conceived both as family practices as well as part of family biographies. In this context questions of belonging interfere with questions of preserving continuity and opening up to change. Thereby, languages form an important basis for family memory and processes of communitarisation that have to be overcome after arriving in a new environment (Purkarthofer 2017). Different dimensions of continuity and change in questions of belonging in transnational families will be shown as key results on the basis of qualitative analysis.

In the project that forms the basis of this contribution, familial practices of narrating and remembering are observed, following the question how practices of memorisation become important for forms of communitarisation in families with migration histories. In addition to participant observations, family biographies are collected through family interviews with family members of different generations.

Theoretically, the project is following conceptualisations of remembrance work (Inowlocki 2003) and remembering as social practice (Rosenthal 2010), as well as remembering as a form of communicative communitarisation (Keppler 1994). Methodologically, it takes a reconstructive perspective that takes situative logics into account as well as the biographical processing of situative experiences. From this perspective, ethnographical and biographical approaches can benefit from one another (Dausien/Kelle 2005; Schnitzer 2017).

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