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Session Overview
RN13_03a: Multi-local, multicultural and transnational families
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Irena Juozeliuniene, Vilnius University
Session Chair: Ronny König, University of Zurich
Location: UP.2.218
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Second Floor Oxford Road

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The Significance of Studying ‘In-Between’ Spaces in Family Life

Vanessa May

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Many of the big debates within family sociology, including debates over individualisation, are rooted in sociology’s fascination with dichotomies such as traditional/modern and individual/society. Instead, this paper argues for the significance of studying ‘in-between spaces’, ‘space’ here denoting both physical space and more abstract relational space. Inspired by Jennifer Mason’s work on affinities, the in-between is conceived of as connective spaces or fields of tension – of repulsion and attraction – that are filled with action, forces and energies. The notion of in-between also opens up avenues of exploration that bring insights from different sub-fields of sociology into dialogue with family sociology. I explore two examples to illustrate my argument, the first pertaining to space-time and the coordination of family practices, the second focusing on relational space and the qualities of (non)relationships. The aim of the paper is to illuminate how a focus on the in-between can open up new avenues of exploration for family sociology.

Similarities and Differences: The Case of Hungarian-Serbian Mixed Marriages

Tibor Ladancsik

University of Debrecen, Hungary

In the current era the institution of the family is facing many challanges. In the system of changing values and norms, the situation of multiethnic families is a particularly interesting topic. In their case the issues of national identity, socialization and mother tongue are completely different from those of nationally homogeneous families. In my presentation I wish to analyze the situation of nationally heterogeneous families, paying special attention to the role of national identity and gender. In terms of the national identity in the mixed marriages, there are basically two perspectives: the social-cohesion theory and the assimilation theory. According to the social-cohesion theory interethnic marriages reduce the tension between the two nations, because weak and strog ties are created between the relatives and friends of the spouses. According to the assimilation theory however, the identity of the minority party is lost in the intermarriages, thereby accelerating the loss and assimilation of that minority. In addition, I would like to focus on the role of gender, because men and women intermarry in varying proportions, but this ratio varies widely among nations. In my research I use both quantitative and qualitative methods. I study the mixed marriages between Hungarians and Serbs in Serbia, Vojvodina and Hungary. Statistical data from Romania and Slovakia are a good basis for comparing Hungarian-Serbian intermarriages. The purpose of my presentation is to interpret the situation of Hungarian and Serbian heterogeneous marriages, and thus to provide an insight in to the situation of multiethnic families.

Symbolic Capital and Gender Relations: a Case Study of Transnational Marriages between Mexicans and Eastern Europeans

Ingrid Ots

Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico

Marital migration to Mexico by Russian-speaking women from Eastern Europe is a growing but understudied social phenomenon. Given Mexican middle-class prestige structures that place a high symbolic value on Caucasian features and European cultural practices these women possess certain types of social capital, making them desirable spouses. This research looks into how these women reassess and restructure these capitals when settling in Mexico and how it impacts on gender relations within their families. It employs an analysis of in-depth interviews with women, their spouses and family members and key informants from Russian-speaking diaspora as well as ethnographic data from online groups and places of community gatherings from a constructivist standpoint in gender theories to trace how local gender ideals specific to Latino culture interact with gender practices that these women embody. Focusing specifically on the level of agent interactions it examines four elements of family dynamics: power structure, division of labour, sexual and emotional representations and gender imaginaries. In doing so, it aims to highlight the variety of ways in which the analytical concepts of social and cultural capital could be used to study gender relations, particularly in a transnational and multicultural setting.

Parents of Refugee Youth: Utilizing and Transforming their Social and Cultural Capital Within the Icelandic Education System

Eva Hardardottir, Berglind Rós Magnúsdóttir

University of Iceland, Iceland

In line with global trends more young people with refugee status are now enrolled into Icelandic schools than before. While there are signs of positive integration processes for immigrant students in Iceland (Ragnarsdóttir, 2016) this group, including refugee youth, faces disadvantages in terms of academic achievement (Grunfelder, Rispling & Norlén, 2018), social well-being (Rúnarsdóttir & Vilhjálmsson, 2015) and segregate schooling or exclusion from school (Hardardóttir & Magnúsdóttir, 2018). Positive school effect seems to impact less on young migrants well-being than Icelandic youth (Rúnarsdóttir & Vilhjálmsson, 2019) whilst migrant parents report communication challenges with schools (Gunnþórsdóttir, Barillé & Meckl, 2017; Ragnarsdóttir & Rafik, 2018). Using an extended Bourdieusian approach (1986) this study proposes an understanding of migration as ways of producing and mobilizing capitals as resources convertible into advantageous positions in different social fields (Erel & Ryan, 2018). Applying an intersectional focus on gender, ethnicity and social class, a focus generally missing in national migrant research, we ask what shapes parents’ position within the education field including their strategies to utilize and enact their capitals?

Using semi-structured in-depth interviews, we focused on biographical accounts of eight parents with refugee status residing in the capital, rural south and north Iceland. Findings indicate that these parents all have high expectations for their children’s education while their experiences Icelandic education system differ relating to their origin and social status, experiences and understanding of global education systems. There were examples of a) devalued cultural capital reflected in low expectation from schools towards children’s educational ability and b) transformations of cultural capital, through interpersonal networks, gaining knowledge and understanding of current cultural and social capital within the Icelandic education system.

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