9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS09 Research Methods in Ethnic and Migration Studies

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Generational Perspectives Building I, 2E5

Investigating the intergenerational solidarity in transnational families. Methological considerations

How is the intergenerational solidarity reconfigured within the transnational families? What forms of support and exchanges take place in the transnational networks? We examine these questions in our exploratory research focused on a yet undocumented migration phenomenon, that of Portuguese population from the Azores archipelago to Canada. These migration flows directed to Canada started in the mid-1950s and reached a peak in the 1970s, continuing until nowadays at lower levels. Maintaining strong ties with the communities left behind and the return migration of the first generation migrants registered in the last decade allow us though to observe the transnational migration as a historical and present phenomenon. Organized as an important family-led migration, this phenomenon involves nowadays three generations of migrants. While the immigrants settled in Canada maintain strong ties with their origin communities (through visits, traditional feasts, etc.), the return migrants preserve important links with the destination society because their children remain.
For all these characteristics, the migration of Portuguese population from the Azorean archipelago to Canada represents an interesting case study for the debates on transnationalism because it involves a continuous back-and-forth movement between the origin and destination countries for over more than 50 years, in a context where geographic distance shapes the exchanges and supports circulating.
Based on biographical interviews conducted with members of 2 or 3 generations of a same family living in the Azores and Montreal, Canada, this paper contributes to the analysis of the intergenerational solidarity in transnational families involving migrants and non-migrants in various and multi-directional exchanges. We discuss the methodological issues related to conducting multi-sited research at both ends of migration chain: constructing narratives through biographical interviews, linguistic difficulties, transmission of information, and the choice of most adequate investigation tools to capture the agency of actors involved in the migration process but also other determinants (life course, family-related considerations, etc.). Moreover, the presentation focuses on the complementarities between the qualitative methodology (semi-directive interviews) and quantitative one (timetables). Finally, we explore the possibility to establish a comparative approach, with other transnational migration phenomenon such as the Portuguese immigrants in France or other European countries.