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Marina Blagaić Bergman
(Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)
Paper Short Abstract:
This presentation is focused on the migration experiences of highly skilled women from south-eastern Europe living in Finland and migration’s relationship to lived experiences in the country of origin and the perceived transformations that migration trajectories enable for achieving well-being.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation will address the migration experiences of highly skilled women from south-eastern Europe living in Finland. Data was gathered through participant observation and in-depth interviews conducted throughout a three-years period. With the aim of researching integration processes and proposing policy inputs based on qualitative research, the interviews dealt with experiences of living in Finland generally while acknowledging professional and private areas of life and their interconnectedness.
Research results established a few theses, which will be theorised. The first deals with the interconnection of migrants’ experiences in the countries of origin and the perceived chances of success in the new country. Another has to do with the continuation of personal transformations triggered by different phases of integration trajectories in which migrants’ agency in creating their new life is continually negotiated. This heavily influences decision making processes and the pace of achieving well-being. Interviews illustrate the notable discrepancy between the life in the country of origin in relation to the life in Finland, notably in the ways that place and positionality in space within the new country connect to non-work areas of life. Non-work life was organically embedded in everydayness in the country of origin, while in Finland, work is foremost, especially if it means working towards eligibility for the job market (e.g. studying the language). Thus, well-being becomes a topic of focus for these women only after gaining a secure source of income, which in turn opens another space for transformation and negotiation of identities.
Highly skilled migrants: challenging ‘integration’ categories