Accepted Paper:

Precarity and the mobile life of the 'trailing spouse'  

Author:

Flavia Cangià (University of Fribourg NCCR LIVES and NCCR - On the Move)

Paper short abstract:

The present paper will investigate the experience of 'trailing spouses' following their partners' mobile career paths in Switzerland, in order to analyze how kin and intimate relationships intersect with job insecurity, gender roles, and related psychological well-being in mobility.

Paper long abstract:

The mobility of professionals (e.g., corporate managers, diplomats, academics) and their families represents an important component of current migration flows. Some of these people, as a result of their employment prospect, change country of residence very often with their families and experience unprecedented job instability, also due to their precarious contracts, limited budget for expatriation packages, and the constant change of destination. This situation at times demands the accompanying partners to quit their job, engage in free-lance activity, constantly reinvent themselves in the new place, take care of family duties and negotiate the "breadwinner" role in the family. How do kinship and intimate relationships support in establishing continuity under these conditions, when individual career trajectories and occupational identities are interrupted and unstable, and how, on the contrary, can these create ambivalence and conflicting feelings?

The present paper will investigate the experience of 'trailing spouses' following their partners' mobile career paths, and will discuss the meaning of 'precarity' from a combined psychological and anthropological perspective by looking both at the structural and subjective dimensions that constitute this notion. In particular, it draws upon some in-depth interviews conducted in Switzerland both with female and male accompanying partners, in order to analyze how kin and intimate relationships (e.g., children's education, couple relations, family values) intersect with the experience of job insecurity, gender roles, and related psychological well-being in mobility.

Panel P064
Mobility, precarity, and the activation of kinship and intimacy [ANTHROMOB]