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The answers you seek will never be found at home: Reflexivity, biographical narratives and lifestyle migration among highly-skilled Estonians
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Sociology. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4823-3551
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Det övergripande syftet med denna avhandling är att undersöka förhållandet mellan migration, reflexivitet och social klass. I fokus för den empiriska analysen står högt kvalificerade estniska emigranter. Reflexivitet har hittills inte varit ett viktigt begrepp i migrationsstudier. Även om vissa studier använt ordet reflexivitet, har det i huvudsak fungerat som bakgrundsbegrepp. Det finns en påtaglig brist på empiriskt orienterade studier av reflexivitet i migrationsstudier.

Avhandlingen består av fyra artiklar med något olika inriktning. Den första undersöker det empiriska fallet i sin helhet utifrån en survey-undersökning om estniska migranter. Den andra artikeln diskuterar den brittiske sociologen Margaret Archers sätt att analysera migration och argumenterar i hennes efterföljd för ett socialpsykologiskt synsätt på de skiftande motiven att migrera. Den tredje artikeln utmanar tanken på att migranters återvändande i huvudsak kan förstås som saknad efter sociala relationer och känslor av hemlängtan. I den fjärde artikeln föreslås ett sätt för livsstilsorienterade migrationsstudier att hantera frågan om reflexivitet. Här positioneras livsstilsmigranter teoretiskt till andra typer av migranter och hur variationer ilivsstilsmigration kan analyseras. Trots inbördes variation har samtliga artiklar en gemensam nämnare.

Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on issues around reflexivity and highly skilled migration. Reflexivity has been an underused concept in migration studies and incurporating it has been long overdue. By reflexivity this thesis understands the capacity of an actor to evaluate his or her position in relation to social structures, to take action in managing those structures and, finally, to critically revise both the position and action taken.

There are multiple reasons as to why incorporating reflexivity is a useful endeavor to migration studies. On one hand, using reflexive types in order to understand different migration motivations offers an alternative to otherwise mainly class based explanations behind migration objectives. Migration research has long relied on the idea that migration motivations can be coupled with societal and class background. Similarly, return migration has been described almost unanimously as a result of a homing desire. Both positions, as claimed in this thesis, are oversimplifications. On the other hand, I argue that, reflexivity helps to analyze the importance of class or even society on migration in 21th century. This is why I suggest to analyze all three in concurrence – migration, reflexivity and class.

In the following pages I analyze how reflexivity can be operationalized for studying migration. So far, reflexivity has been either used as background concept – mobility studies or for explaining particular kind of migration – lifestyle migration. I argue, that with careful operationalization reflexivity could be useful tool for explaining wide-variety of migrations – family, labour, lifestyle etc. Three articles in this thesis focus on providing such operationalizations, analyzing the relationship between migration motivations and reflexivity. Finally, the first article in this thesis analyzes the background of my particular group of migrants – Estonian highly skilled migrants and positions them in relation to other groups in Estonian society. Moreover, the article also underlines that self-development and lifestyle, if you will, is an important motivation for Eastern European migrants as well.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2017. , p. 94
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 140
Keywords [en]
reflexivity, highly skilled migration, Eastern Europe, lifestyle migration
Keywords [sv]
Östeuropa, reflexivitet, migration
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-32794ISBN: 978-91-88663-03-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-88663-03-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-32794DiVA, id: diva2:1109117
Public defence
2017-09-29, MA624, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European StudiesAvailable from: 2017-09-07 Created: 2017-06-13 Last updated: 2017-09-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Individualisation of migration from the East?: Comparison of different socio-demographic groups and their migration intentions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Individualisation of migration from the East?: Comparison of different socio-demographic groups and their migration intentions
2016 (English)In: Studies of Transition States and Societies, ISSN 1736-874X, E-ISSN 1736-8758, Vol. 8, no 3, p. 45-59Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent studies on Eastern European migration argue that moving for self-development reasons is becoming increasingly common among this group. Furthermore, it is suggested that migration from the East is becoming individualised and less dependent on social surroundings. Nevertheless, most such results rely on interviews conducted among certain social groups, such as the young and highly skilled. Hence, the comparison between different social groups and their motivations is rarely provided and, therefore, the claims about increased individualisation might be premature. This article uses the Estonian Household Module Survey, including responses from 620 Estonians intending to migrate, to evaluate if migration flows are indeed becoming more individualised and less dependent on social surroundings. Using cluster analysis, three different groups - self-development, economic and life quality migrants - are formed, which are then tested using regression analysis to check for the influence of socio-demographic variables. The article concludes that socio-demographic variables such as gender, age, ethnicity, family status and socio-economic status are still relevant for migration intentions. Indeed, a new group of Eastern European migrants, mainly oriented towards self-development, is emerging; however, it is small and consists mostly of young, Estonian-speaking females. The results complicate the notions of free mobility and liquid migration from Eastern Europe and illustrate that there is a need to pay attention to the increasing group differences in these societies.

Keywords
Eastern Europe, Individualization, Migration motives
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-31526 (URN)2-s2.0-85002982746 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2016-12-23 Created: 2016-12-23 Last updated: 2017-06-14Bibliographically approved
2. Using reflexivity to explain variations in migration among highly-skilled
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using reflexivity to explain variations in migration among highly-skilled
2018 (English)In: Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, ISSN 1070-289X, E-ISSN 1547-3384Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Migration literature has traditionally distinguished between different motivations of migration, such as labour, family and newly also lifestyle migration, never fully exploring the background of these motivations. This article suggests that these different motivations may be explained by different modes of reflexivity as distinguished by Margaret Archer. Linking modes of reflexivity with migration motivations addresses two problems in current migration literature. First, it provides for practical application of reflexivity in explaining migration motivations, which has been missing so far. Second, the article advocates using psycho-social approach as opposed to more commonly adapted ethnical or class based explanations in understanding migration behavior, hence avoiding the potential trap of falling into the trap of methodological nationalism or classism. Through the interview with highly-skilled Estonian migrants it is shown that the reasons of migration among highly skilled are versatile and cannot be explained solely by their class background.

Keywords
Reflexivity, Archer, highly skilled migration, Eastern Europe, lifestyle migration, biography
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-32803 (URN)10.1080/1070289X.2017.1412179 (DOI)2-s2.0-85041309673 (Scopus ID)
Note

Som manuskript i avhandling. As manuscript in dissertation.

Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2018-09-25Bibliographically approved
3. To return or not to return?: The importance of identity negotiations for return migration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>To return or not to return?: The importance of identity negotiations for return migration
2018 (English)In: Social Identities, ISSN 1350-4630, E-ISSN 1363-0296, Vol. 24, no 1, p. 120-133Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Whereas migration research has been heavily influenced by the individualization paradigm, studies on return migration have been more inspired by theories on attachment and belonging. It is common for this kind of research to assert that the main motivations for returning are social contacts and a homing desire. Although this article does not question the importance of such motivations for some, it does argue that return migration needs to be more problematized, not least by studying people who have decided not to return. Based on interviews with highly skilled Estonians, this article suggests that return decisions are influenced by three types of comparisons: social, temporal, and intra-subjective. The first two comparisons have been discussed to some degree in migration literature; however, a focus on intra-subjective comparisons – in which people compare different parts of their identity in order to decide on a potential return – has been scarce. This article suggests that, in line with the individualization of social relationships, but also with the introduction of a new EU mobility space, it is the latter type of comparison that is becoming increasingly widespread.

Keywords
Eastern Europe, reflexivity, Return migration, transnationalism
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-32518 (URN)10.1080/13504630.2017.1310038 (DOI)000423879300014 ()2-s2.0-85017147753 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-05-12 Created: 2017-05-12 Last updated: 2018-09-26Bibliographically approved
4. Reflexivity beyond lifestyle migration: highly skilled Estonian migrants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reflexivity beyond lifestyle migration: highly skilled Estonian migrants
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-32804 (URN)
Note

Som manuskript i avhandling. As manuscript in dissertation.

Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2017-06-14Bibliographically approved

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