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2015 | 41 | 3 (157) | 57–75

Article title

The Normativity of Migration and Intergenerational Care in the Polish-German Transnational Social Space


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Migration and care are normative in terms of the social expectations, obligations and common-sense which they involve. Intergenerational care in Poland is recurrently characterized as being highly binding in terms of filial responsibilities in home-based care arrangements. The on-going high rates of emigration therefore ought to challenge intergenerational care arrangements. The majority of research proves, however, that migration does not dissolve migrants’ care obligations toward their relatives in the emigration countries, but that they persist with some modifications and adaptations to its distant character. Previous studies therefore connect migrants’, and to a lesser extent their relatives’ in the emigration countries, care practices to the normativity of the distinct “care culture’’ in Poland. This article explores the idea that practices and obligations of intergenerational care are inherently tied to the social expectations and meanings attached to migration. Twenty interviews with Polish migrants in Germany and ten interviews with their relatives in Poland reveal how the binding character of familial care arrangements and high rates of emigration can co-occur in that transnational personal relations, between migrants and their non-migrant relatives, support the familial and home-based care arrangements by relational adaptations. The adaptations involve (self-)exclusions from (among others) mobility based on the intersection of previous migration experiences, the closeness of the family relationship as well as generation and gender, placing close, female and immobile family members (i.e. daughters) in a de-privileged position in transnational relations.



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