Immigrant children imagining and building belonging in a transnational family
Department of Sociology University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
The presentation deals with second generation immigrant children's perspectives on their transnational families. Whereas the immigrant generation can sustain their previous relationships to (extended) family members in places of origin and other countries, children who immigrated when they were young or were born in the country of immigration have to negotiate their belonging in the almost unknown transnational family network. Building on qualitative network analysis and discourse analytical approach, two intertwined aspects of belonging are discussed: children's ways of constructing their (imagined) families and attempts to build concrete social relationships to the members of extended family network. In the context of relative geographical and social isolation of the transnational family, children imagine being part of it and hope to "know" their families, and consequently be "known" themselves, e.g. claim a belonging in the family. On the other hand, a particular form of belonging in the family network is realized when concrete social relationships are built. Visits to the extended family plays a central role in this, as social relationships are mostly built trough face-to-face contact with people. In the final section, the dynamics of exclusion from and inclusion in the family network as a means of negotiating a sense of self is discussed. The paper draws from semi-structured network interviews with 29 second generation children and youth in Finland. In the interviews both data on personal network and interview data was gathered.