9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS10 Socio-Anthropology of Trans-national Migrations and Migrants' Families

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Marriage as a Stratagy to get Legal Status in the EU Building II, C2.05

(De)constructing family migration: female migrants in Slovenia (a case study)

Debates on immigration reveal a tension between selecting and restricting the number of immigrants and the need for the migrant labour force in ageing societies. In these discourses, practical and analytical categories such as voluntary/forced migrant, low-skilled/skilled migrant un/documented migrant, labour vs. family migrant are often uncritically used both by policy makers and migration researchers. However, these categories may contain value-laden lines and are problematic in assuming that people defined within them are all similar and that the categories themselves are already distinct. Moreover, these categories do not correspond to the diversified nature of today's migration.

The paper will focus especially on one of these categories - that is family migration, and in particular marriage migration. This will be done through the analysis of life stories of female migrants from the former Soviet Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina living in Slovenia. It will be studied how female migrants as social actors with their own goals and strategies negotiate the meanings and statuses imposed on them by official policies and discourses and how they construct and challenge formal (official) categorisations in their life-stories (narrations), both in relation to their individual life-histories and in relation to their families. Consequently, the variability of individual agency of female migrants within a discursively constituted migration and social policy will be analysed and individual histories will be located in the context of patterns of social differentiation and stratification. It will be analysed how female migrants are found on the crossroads of political, national and class junctures and their ways of resistance to the restrictive migration policies at the level of the EU that privilege marriage as an institution as opposed to other forms of family life and as such create possibilities for subordination of individual women will be revealed. High, low and turning points in migrants' lives will be pinpointed in order to demonstrate how family (and marriage) migration is not a unitary concept, as it can encompass diverse families, motives forms of migration and institutional contexts, making this category highly fluid and intersecting with other categories of migration.