Accepted Papers:

Is it a privilege to be mobile? Multi-local family life approached from children's perspective  


Pihla Maria Siim (University of Tartu)
Laura Assmuth (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper Short Abstract:

The paper explores the relativity of privileged mobility from the children’s point of view, through the case of transnational families in the Estonian-Finnish context. Is it a privilege to be mobile, and for what reasons? Also the methodological challenges in studying children’s mobility will be discussed.

Paper long abstract:

The paper critically discusses the relativity of privileged mobility, through the case of families with children within the Estonian-Finnish transnational space. Estonians often move to neighbouring Finland in search for better work, with a greater income. The circular migration between Finland and Estonia is also intensive. Relocation is often planned to be short-term at the beginning, but the stay is later prolonged. Sometimes family members move together, but more typically the spouse and/or children join the migrant later on.

Drawing on fieldwork material in Estonia and Finland, the paper discusses the ways migration is narrated in different contexts, and by whom. Migrants themselves often prefer not to talk about unsuccessful migration, failures or unhappiness. We might ask then, are the migration stories told mainly to justify migration decisions already made? The paper explores the ways mobility is understood by different family members, also by those staying behind. The main aim is to look at the phenomena from the point of view of children - the ways they narrate, construct and value mobility. From the children's perspective, is it a privilege to be mobile, or rather to have one stable location, and perhaps parent(s) bringing home commodities? To what extend are their discourses reflecting the opinions of adults? Children might describe themselves as privileged for other reasons, for example for having two home countries. Finally we ask, to which extend can children's migration be regarded as voluntary? Where to draw the line between disadvantaged and privileged children in our case?

Panel P096
Child migrants or 'third culture kids'? Approaches to children and privileged mobility (ANTHROMOB)