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No 41 - 2022

Im/migration: Family Strategies and Access to Rights
Directed by Catherine Delcroix, Josiane Le Gall, Elise Pape

Im/migration: Family Strategies and Access to Rights
Catherine Delcroix, Josiane Le Gall, Elise Pape

Objectives: The aim of this issue of the journal is to study the way in which « making a family » influences access to rights and the integration of migrant families in Europe (France, Germany), North America (Quebec) and Djibouti, from Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Mozambique or Brazil. Similarly, and reciprocally, he is interested in the impact of law on family experiences in a migratory context.

Methodology: The ethnographic observation approach, through the cross-referenced collection of life stories and the reconstruction of the life contexts of these migrants (while respecting their words and their anonymity) makes it possible to discover, sometimes in a counter-intuitive way, the effects of the policies on their lives.

Results: It often happens that within the same migrant family the legal status of its members is different, and therefore their rights to be regularised or not. As a result, these families – and more broadly, entire groups of migrants – have to carry out important work in terms of information for access to residence rights, work, access to schooling for their children, health, nationality, etc. Nothing is guaranteed a priori. Nothing is guaranteed a priori.

Conclusion: We can imagine how much migration will continue in the face of climate change and political unrest throughout history. It is likely that a policy evaluation approach, or lack thereof, by those affected, will be increasingly necessary in the future.

Contribution: This thematic issue of the journal Enfances Familles Générations highlights, from a historical and comparative approach, the impact of the legitimacy of being part of the national community to which these men and women have migrated (Destremau, 2022).

Keywords: migration, transnational family, intergenerational transmission, life course, change of migratory status, identity building, migration policy, agency, socio-legal approach, ethnographic approach

Change in Migration Status and Family, Work and Migration Issues: A Case Study
Monica Schlobach

Research framework: Migration in two stages, i.e. the transition from temporary resident to permanent resident, is becoming important as a migratory phenomenon in Canada and Quebec. It has repercussions in several spheres of migrants’ life, whether it be family, professional or migratory.

Objectives: This article seeks to explore the processes involved in the change of migration status of a Brazilian family in Quebec from temporary resident to permanent resident.

Methodology: The study used qualitative data from repeated interviews with the principal applicant, a professional in engineering, his spouse and children.

Results: Each of the children attended school in English for three years. Upon obtaining the Quebec Selection Certificate, each was forced to leave the English school and enroll in French school. This caused a break in their educational path and led to new constraints on their socio-professional mobility and in their parent’s plans for re-migration.

Conclusions: The denial of recognition is experienced by everyone as an ordeal, where each member of the family has been assigned the status of foreigner both at school and at work.

Contribution: This article sheds light on the family, professional and migratory status. It reveals some of the often invisible consequences of the Charter of the French language on the educational career of certain children of migrant parents and the professional and migratory trajectory of the parents.

Keywords: change of migratory status, educational path, two-stage migration, migrant family, highly qualified migrants, Charter of the French language

The schooling experience of Syrian refugee children during exile: from transit to resettlement
Liyun Wan

Research framework: This article is based on an ethnographic survey conducted with a dozen Syrian refugee families who arrived in Strasbourg after 2011.

Objectives: We explain the children’s educational pathways, from Syria to France via transit countries (Lebanon, Turkey), in order to show the constraints of schooling during exile, as well as the different forms of family mobilization for access to rights and academic success for these children.

Methodology: This ethnographic study mobilizes qualitative methods such as “participant observation” and the collection of “life stories”.

Results: The educational constraints encountered in transit countries are linked to the limits of access to rights. These create gaps and put children behind in their schooling when they arrive in France. The obstacles posed by accumulated delays, the language and the contents taught sometimes lead to dead ends. Despite the difficulties, families are also actors who mobilize different resources to ensure that their children continue their education.

Conclusion: The successive constraints during exile lead to questions about educational institutions that evaluate and categorize students while forgetting their background. What could we consider in order to ensure equal treatment between children with different backgrounds?

Contribution: Starting from the numerous existing studies that deal with the educational constraints of refugee children from an institutional point of view, this research explores the family from the inside to show the point of view of its members. It links the institutional dimension to the family and individual dimension.

Mots-clés: syrian refugees, schooling, family mobilization, exile

“Family Community”, “National Community”: The Effects of Legal Constructions on Family Socializations on North African families in France
Djamel Sellah

Research Framework: Within the framework of studies on ordinary relations to politics and that of migration studies, this work intends to study the classical object of political socializations within the family structure, by questioning the effects of legal constructions on them.

Objectives: This article observes the contradictions that can arise within the family space (“family community”) due to the exclusion of some of its members from the “national community” because of their legal status.

Methodology: This article is based on thirty narrative interviews conducted with descendants of North African immigrants aged 18 to 45 living in the Île-de-France region and having at least one parent born in a North African country.

ResultsAccording to our results, the different legal status of members of the same family does not have a restrictive effect on political transmissions, as they are part of a wider set of exchanges. However, adaptations and common strategies may be put in place by these members in situations where legal status is imposed as a constraint, particularly at the time of voting. Some categorizations resulting from legal constructs can be illustrated within the family space, such as the “good immigrant/bad immigrant”, and thus put family ties to the test.

ConclusionsAs with any problematic focused on an ethnic minority, the study of political socializations within North African families requires epistemological precautions. The legal status approach allowed us to limit the « culturalist » and « evolutionist » pitfalls. Moreover, an approach that considers political socializations in their global context offers the possibility of capturing elements of understanding of certain phenomena specific to immigrant families.
Contribution: This work represents a first approach to the superposition of these two symbolic spaces. It would be interesting to continue the reflection started in this work, in order to disentangle more precisely what comes under primary socializations and what comes under the effects of legal status.

Mots-clés: socialization, political, politicization, everyday, family, immigrant, North-African, France, citizenship, nationality

“Please Share Your Journeys”. Administrative Experiences of Family Reunification in France and Online Collective Strategies to Cope with Institutions
Julia Descamps

Research framework: French law guarantees on paper the “right to a normal family life” for immigrants, by allowing those legally residing in France to be joined by their spouse and children under 18.

Objectives: This article aims to study the way in which immigrants carry out the administrative procedures during a family reunification process, and how they adapt to them. It questions the conditions of the possible emergence of collective strategies for migrant families before the institution, in regard to a measure dedicated to the private sphere.

Methods: The analysis is based on observations in online “feedback” groups on the family reunification process, and semi-structured interviews conducted between September 2020 and January 2021 with members of these groups.

Results: The online groups constitute a bottom-up instance of socialization with regards to the right to family reunification and reveal a gendered sharing of administrative work. They are also the place for collective narratives and mobilizations that highlight the most successful paths.

Conclusions: Access to the right to family reunification should not be analyzed only at the level of the applicant, but also at the level of the couple and of collective mobilization. The community’s sharing has contrasting effects on the individual and collective experience of this right, from support to moral guidance of administrative careers.

Contribution: The article underlines the agency of migrant families to reunify under French law, and in particular the crucial role of spouses who have remained abroad, often considered as passive beneficiaries of family reunification. It invites reflection on the internalization by immigrants of the state’s selective norms for family immigration.

Mots-clés: migration policy, family reunification, law, France, electronic sociability, transnational family

Access to reproductive healthcare in a migratory context: Pathways of immigrant women who want to control their fertility in Quebec
Audrey Gonin, Sabrina Zennia, Paule Lespérance, Marie-Amélie St-Pierre, Marianne Rodrigue

Research framework: Access to the healthcare system is a key issue for women who wish to exercise control over their fertility. In fact, access to medicalized female contraceptive methods and abortion can prevent or terminate unwanted pregnancies without the need for negotiation with partners. However, the recent immigrant population has generally more difficulty accessing care, which raises specific issues for immigrant women’s right to reproductive health.

Objective: This research examines the experiences of immigrant women who have been living in Montreal for less than 10 years, in an effort to better understand the barriers to accessing medical contraception and abortion that may exist for this population.

Methodology: The testimonies of 12 women born on 4 different continents were analyzed using Lévesque et al.’s model of access to care (2013) and transnational perspective. The latter takes into account the influence of these women’s migratory paths, both in terms of their previous life experiences and the links with their country of birth, which remain and are also transformed.

Results: The pathways through which the immigrant women interviewed access (or do not access) reproductive health resources, with a focus on reproductive autonomy, are quite arduous despite their willingness to access them and their ability to seek them. In addition, our participants had mixed experiences with the services they received once they had managed to get through the doors of health care institutions. The main issues identified by women interviewed were a lack of listening, caring and time spent explaining the different options, as well as giving them the space to make an informed decision about their contraceptive method.

Contribution: In light of the limited knowledge available in Quebec on the issue of immigrant women’s access to contraception and abortion, this research reports on the obstacles encountered by women who arrived in Canada less than 10 years ago. Compared to research conducted internationally or in other Canadian provinces, our research provides a more detailed understanding of the expectations that may exist regarding reproductive health services. The transnational framework makes visible issues that tend to go unnoticed by focusing solely on the host society. In particular, it makes visible the opportunities induced by the bicultural position of people with a migratory background.

Mots-clés: contraception, immigration, reproductive health, access to care, reproductive autonomy

Along migration trajectories: playing with legal status and recomposing identities
Morgann Barbara Pernot

Research Framework: Since 2015 and Yemen’s entry into the war, labour migration of Yemeni men to Djibouti has given way to multicausal migrations, particularly family migrations. This plurality of migratory paths is accompanied by a diversification of legal statuses within these families.

Objectives: By looking at the migratory trajectories of women and men over several generations, before and after the war, this article aims to understand how migrants’ relationships to legal status are constructed. It also aims to study the identity effects of these differences in status.

Methodology: The article is based on the study of migration trajectories collected during a six-month ethnography. It was conducted in Djibouti with several Yemeni families. The author carried out “observational participation”, conducted interviews and collected life stories.

Results: The migration trajectories of successive generations of Yemeni traders in Djibouti have long questioned the status of foreign workers and Djiboutian national, in terms of their material and identity implications, and the political context of the time. The new migratory trajectories of traders’ families lead to the deployment of a diversification’s strategy and accumulation of legal statuses – including access to refugee status – as well as a crystallization of the Yemeni identity.

Conclusions: Both strategic and identity-based, the relationships that migrant families maintain with legal status demonstrate their ability to act in the face of states, and political, social and economic contexts.

Contribution: Based on an original case study, this article contributes to the understanding of the transformations of migratory trajectories according to gender and generations, and to the enrichment of the knowledge of migratory strategies and their identity implications.

Mots-clés: migration, lifecourse, legal status, family, generation, gender, Yemen, Djibouti

Families between Mozambique and Germany: biographical trajectories of Mozambican migrants who arrived as contract workers in the German Democratic Republic (GDA)
Ines Grau

Research Framework: The article focuses on the pathways of former contract workers who came to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from Mozambique under bilateral agreements between 1979 and 1990. These young adults were not allowed to start a family during their stay, which was by definition dedicated solely to work and training. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, only a minority of them remained in Germany. For some, family constellations played a decisive role in obtaining a residence permit.

Objectives: This article aims to highlight the impact of these Cold War-specific arrangements on individual life paths, and in particular on strategies for “making a family”.

Methodology: This on ongoing qualitative research is based on life stories collected during narrative interviews with former workers living in Germany today. Three case studies were chosen to examine, as examples, the ways of “making family” in this specific arrangement of contract work.

Results: This comparison shows that the prohibition to start a family was not a long-term obstacle for any of the three interviewees. Several strategies were observed, such as starting their family in Mozambique during their contractual work or postponing having a family in Germany until after the termination of their contracts in 1990 and onwards.

Conclusions: The family structures thus constructed are part of new transnational social spaces co-constructed by the interviewees. They are interwoven between Mozambique and Germany, which foster a multicultural belonging in their children and generate new forms of North-South mobility.

Contribution: This approach allows us to highlight the biographies of former Mozambican workers, in the context of their stay in the GDR, but also in a broader perspective covering their entire life path, from their childhood to the present day.

Mots-clés: contract work, cold war, Mozambique, Germany, transnational family spaces, biographical research

Individual Characteristics of Parents Involved in a High-Conflict Divorce: Perceptions of Psychosocial and Judicial Professionals
Amylie Paquin-Boudreau, Karine Poitras, Élisabeth Godbout, Francine Cyr

Research Framework: Families in high conflict separation situations disproportionately use the courts, lawyers and psychosocial resources, and use multiple systems simultaneously. Professionals feel powerless to intervene with them and to tend to hold negative perceptions about them. The individual characteristics they perceive in parents must be studied because of their importance in understanding both the interpersonal dynamics of these parents and the challenges of professional intervention.

Objectives: This study aims to identify the perceptions of legal and psychosocial professionals regarding the individual characteristics of parents involved in high conflict situations.

Methodology: A thematic content analysis was conducted on two types of documents, including the files kept by the psychotherapists participating in the Parenting-Conflict-Resolution protocol and the court decisions rendered in family situations that were admitted to the same protocol.

Results: The discourse of judges and psychologists reveals their perception of the individual characteristics of parents involved in high conflict family separations, such as distrust, opposition, lack of empathy, impulsiveness, lack of introspection and self-criticism, and immature defense mechanisms.

Conclusions: This article highlights the perceptions of legal and psychosocial professionals regarding individual characteristics of parents involved in high conflict situations. Our results show how these individual characteristics might generate difficulties in interpersonal relationships and impact their use of the various psychosocial and legal systems.

Contribution: The results of this study document the perceptions of legal and psychosocial professionals regarding the individual characteristics of parents experiencing high conflict separation, which supports reflections on the needs of these families and the challenges faced by the legal and psychosocial service systems with them.

Keywords: family, marital separation, family conflict, psychology, justice system

Adultism as a critical analysis tool: an example applied to socio-judicial intervention with young people living in a context of domestic violence
Pamela Alvarez-Lizotte, Caroline Caron

Research Framework: In this article, we propose a theoretical and critical analysis of the social relationship of age, in light of a concept that has emerged from critical social perspectives in recent decades, namely adultism.

Objectives: We have two objectives: 1) to conceptualize adultism as a system of oppression that results in epistemic injustices and 2) to exemplify how adultism can manifest itself today, by applying the analysis to socio-judicial intervention with young people living in the context of domestic violence (DV).

Methodology: We deconstruct youth-adult social relationships as they are known in Quebec by conducting a theoretical and critical analysis based on the work of Collins (2000) and the emerging literature on adultism.

Results: Adultism is a system of oppression formed, developed and perpetuated by four interrelated domains of power: hegemonic, structural, disciplinary and interpersonal. In socio-judicial intervention, these domains of power constitute a major obstacle to the recognition of the epistemic agency of youth living in the context of DV. Adultism contributes to discrediting and marginalizing the voices of these youth; as a result, their views are not always sought, heard, or considered in decisions made about their custody and father-child contact.

Conclusion: Through the four domains of power, adultism contributes to young people’s experience of epistemic injustice and poses barriers to the recognition of their agency.

Contribution: The article highlights the potential for social transformation of a better recognition of adultism, particularly in the intervention with young people living in the context of DV, as well as the relevance of its use as a tool for critical analysis.

Mots-clés: adultism, age social relations, childhood, adolescence, domestic violence, separation, socio-judicial intervention

Young Adults’ Agency Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence and Supported by Use of the Life History Calendar
Annie Dumont, Geneviève Lessard, Pamela Alvarez-Lizotte, Anaïs Pellerin, Simon Lapierre

Research framework: This article is based on two studies of young adults who were exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) in childhood or adolescence. These studies focused on their life course and their views of intimate partner violence.

Objectives: The article documents the types of agency enacted by the young adults interviewed, through their life course. It also explores the extent to which the use of the Life History Calendar (LHC) in the research can help empower these young adults over the way they tell their stories.

Methodology: Semi-structured qualitative interviews, supported by the LHC, were conducted with 63 young people aged 18 to 25 who had been exposed to intimate partner violence. Their agency was analyzed using Hitlin and Elder’s (2007) typology.

Results: The identity agency strategies described by the participants relate largely to actions that allow them to protect themselves from violence in their daily life. The pragmatic agency and life course agency allowed them to face new situations and to project themselves into a better future. Their participation in the research is also part of their agentive strategies.

Conclusions: The retrospective view adopted by the participants leads them to describe the meaning they gave to the agentive strategies used to counter their experience with exposition to IPV and its short- and long-term consequences. In addition to generating new knowledge about exposition to IPV, the methodology used allows a reappropriation of their life story by young adults involved, who can explain the meaning of their actions or decisions.

Contribution: Considering young adults who have experienced exposure to IPV as actors in their life course contributes to giving them a voice and taking their points of view into account in the decisions that concern them.

Mots-clés: agency, exposure to intimate partner violence, young adult, life course

One is not born a beauty, one becomes one: maternal responsibility and the transmission of the care for beauty in Taiwan
Amélie Keyser-Verreault

Research Framework: In Taiwan, parents are increasingly concerned about their childen’s future and deliberately invest in their future competitiveness. In a highly competitive environment where female beauty can bring many material and immaterial benefits, mothers are encouraged to transmit some aesthetic values and behaviors to their daughters.

ObjectiveThis paper aims to analyze the little-studied phenomenon of the transmission of beauty care by mothers to their daughters in the Taiwanese neoliberal context.

Methodology: To do so, we mobilized a qualitative methodology based upon 70 semi-structured interviews and participant observation in Taiwan between 2014 and 2017. 

ResultsOur research showed that, in order to maximize their chances of success in their personal, marital, professional and social life, beauty is seen by women as a decisive asset. Mothers are then held accountable to teach their daughters to take care of their physical appearance. Three dominant themes emerged from the participants’ comments regarding this aesthetic training: moderating or reducing the appetite, having white skin, having a cute behavior and appearance.

Conclusions: The skills necessary for aesthetic work are learned from deliberate investment. Mothers have the responsability for this aesthetic training. This gendered and generational dimension of the training of future « aesthetic entrepreneurs » is decisive, but often invisibilized in discussions of neoliberal individualism.   

Contributions: Our research allows us to understand the new gendered modalities of parenting in a context where the children are considered as human capital in the making. 

Mots-clés: beauty, motherhood, eating attitude, neoliberalism, Taiwan, human capital, aesthetic entrepreneur