Conference Agenda

RS05_05: Multi-local family life: Challenging normative constructions of the family
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Lenka Formankova, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences
Location: GM.331
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Transnational Families of LGB Migrants: Negotiating Familyhood Across Different Socio-Institutional Contexts

Tanja Vuckovic Juros

University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

In this presentation, based on interviews with lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands and their family members in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries with a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, I will show how mobility to a socio-institutional context strongly supportive of LGB rights can transform family relations and create new connections among family members separated by distance. Even though they are still under the radar of the transnational families literature, LGB migrants sustain similar financial and emotional ties with their families in countries of origin as other transnational migrants. However, their non-normative sexualities add an additional layer of complexity to transnational communication and care, particularly if LGB migrants must manage different normative expectations between receiving and sending societies. In case of some CEE LGB migrants who left for Western Europe primarily for economic reasons - and did not necessarily disclose their sexual identification before leaving - the distance and the 'new beginning' make the disclosure of sexuality and same-sex relationships to family members back home easier, sometimes resulting also in more intimate relations than before, despite the distance. Others, in contrast, continue to juggle different levels of disclosure between different segments of their transnational social networks. While same-sex marriage does not necessarily change these patterns, a birth of a child proves more transformative as it pushes LGB migrants into full disclosure. Simultaneously, new grandparents often engage in deeper communication and care with same-sex family across distance, thus negotiating a new sense of familyhood.

Transnational Connectedness; Ageing Migrants’ Physical and Virtual Connectedness to Family and Place

Obert Tawodzera, Louise Ryan, Majella Kilkey, Magdolna Lorinc

University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Studies of migration and ageing have been especially important for increasing our understandings of the interactions between ageing migrants and their transnational families. The key argument is that despite living away from their countries of birth for many years, many ageing migrants continue to maintain connections with their families across national borders (Ackers and Dwyer 2002). Their everyday lives are argued to be transformed by new technologies that make it possible for individuals to maintain ties and remain socially connected across distance (Baldassar et al., 2017). However, ageing migrants’ connectedness to people and places is dynamic due to their advanced age and migration histories. The intersections of time, age and life course might influence the way they remain connected to their home countries and the way they use new technologies.

In this context, this paper discusses the physical and virtual connectedness of ageing migrants to people, places and organisations as well as conditions that shape their virtual transnational connectedness. We draw on new date from a large ESRC Sustainable Care Project (2017-21). Our analysis is based on in-depth interviews with three groups; African-Caribbean, Irish and Polish. We examine their transnational practices, focusing specifically on the themes of care, ageing, transnationality, inequality, use of new technologies and their relationships to place. Our research contributes to debates about the changing normative ideas and expectations about care, ageing, family relationships, use of new technologies and attachment to multiple places.

The Spatiality of Doing Family in Multilocal Living Arrangements Through Nine Analytical Dimensions: between Barriers, Distance, Belonging and intermittent Coexistence

Cédric J. Duchêne-Lacroix

University of Basel, Switzerland

Although divorces, separations, singles and small households have increased in Europe, family is not over. To better understand this paradoxical situation, this contribution will tackle two main issues: what makes a family and what is the spatiality of it. Facing the diversity of the family forms, we have to think family not just as a configuration (Widmer and Jallinoja, 2008) but also as a node or an elastic ball of perpetual dynamics (Caring, Identification, reproduction etc.) which we can classify through 9 dimensions (Von Arx and Duchêne-Lacroix, 2014). In another words we propose to conceptualize the „doing family“ (Schier, 2009; Schier and Jurczyk, 2007; Von Arx and Duchêne-Lacroix, 2014). Secondly, we have to think about the role of space in the doing family and especially the social aspect of the spatiality of doing family: how to cope with absence, how to live (better) together with or thanks distance (Nedelcu and Wyss, 2016), a choreography of coexistence (Weichhart 2013) etc.? Based on an own qualitative empirical material we present the spatiality of different family configurations. Through this analysis, we highlight the variation of the use and effects of the equivalent spatial qualities associated with the family configurations.


Von Arx, M., and Duchêne-Lacroix, C. (2014). Reproducing, budgeting, coexisting, caring, networking, “culturing”, positioning, identifying, displaying, … Familienherstellungsleistung im multilokalen transnationalen Kontext. In Questionner les mobilités résidentielles à l’aune de la multilocalité, P. Hamman, M. Blanc, C. Duchêne-Lacroix, T. Freytag, and C. Kramer, eds. (Strasbourg: Neothèque), pp. 289–322.

The Role Of Local Cultural-Normative Constructions Of Children And Their Best Interests In Shaping The Lived Experiences Of Shared Custody Arrangements In Belgium And Italy

Laura Merla, Sarah Murru, Berengère Nobels

UCLouvain, Belgium

Based on in-depth, qualitative fieldwork with over 40 children aged between 10 and 16, and semi-structured interviews with at least one of their parents, this paper examines the role that local cultural-normative constructions of children, their best interests, and the roles of mothers and fathers in families, play in shaping the lived experiences of shared custody arrangements in Belgium and Italy. After presenting the main characteristics of the everyday organization of this mode of living in the two countries, we examine the specific role that Italian and Belgian children, as well as mothers and fathers play in the coordination of this multi-local living arrangement. We observe in particular strong local differences, on the one hand, in children’s levels of autonomy and active participation in the management of the practicalities of moving between two homes and, on the other hand, in the roles that fathers and mothers respectively take in the organization of their children’s daily lives within, and across households. We then try to make sense of those differences by discussing how local cultural-normative constructions of children and families may shape these practices.