Belonging and Ontological Security Among Eastern European Migrant Parents and Their Children
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Research has given increasing recognition to the important role that children play in family decisions to migrate and the significant impact of migration on family relationships. At the same time, the role of emotional labour involved in feeling ‘at home’ and the sense of ontological security and everyday belonging that families develop post-migration can benefit from further exploration. Drawing on data collected with Eastern European migrant families in Scotland, this article explores intergenerational understandings of (in)securities by comparing parents’ and children’s views on their lives post-migration. It shows that, while adults constructed family security around notions of stable employment and potential for a better future, children reflected more on the emotional and ontological insecurities which families experienced. Family relationships are often destabilised by migration, which can lead to long-term or permanent insecurities such as family disintegration and the loss of a sense of recognition and belonging. The article reflects on the ways in which insecurities of the past are transformed, but are unlikely to be resolved, by migration to a new country. It does this by grounding the analysis in young people’s own understandings of security and by examining how their narratives challenge idealised adult expectations of family security and stability post-migration. It also shows that young people’s involvement in migration research brings an important perspective to the family dynamics post-migration, challenging adult-centred constructs.
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