Limited but Enduring Transnational Ties? Transnational Family Life among Polish Migrants in Norway
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This paper explores the transnational family life of Polish migrants in Norway, through the analysis of the nature and extent of transnational practices and transnational identifications. We draw on debates in migration studies on the limits of transnationalism and on transnational parenting, both arguing for greater attention to the actual extent and nature of transnational ties, as a way of securing the analytical value of the term ‘transnational’. The paper builds on interviews and focus groups with 45 research participants in Bergen and Oslo (post-accession migrants, but also earlier migrants, and descendants). It conceptualizes transnational family life as: 1) transnational parenting and care responsibilities; 2) return visits and communication; and 3) changing relationship dynamics. We argue that the extent of ‘transnational’ family life among Polish migrants in Norway in general should not be exaggerated. However, the analysis of migrants’ transnational practices and transnational identifications demonstrates first, a distinction between split households and migrant households, and second of all, how these transnational identifications and practices are, in many cases, mutually constitutive dimensions. We conclude that transnational identifications, and sporadic transnational practices, may appear as weak forms of transnational family life, but that these can also be understood as enduring forms of migrant transnationalism.
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