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No 43 - 2023

Migrant Family Trajectories and Contributions to the Host Society: Interdisciplinary and International Reflections
Directed by Solène Lardoux , Marie-Laurence Flahaux , Nathalie Mondain, Maman Joyce Dogba, Deirdre Meintel

Migrant Family Trajectories and Contributions to the Host Society: Interdisciplinary and International Reflections
Solène Lardoux , Marie-Laurence Flahaux , Nathalie Mondain, Maman Joyce Dogba, Deirdre Meintel

Research framework: Although immigrants participate in many domains of the host society, their integration may prove difficult, for some time after their arrival.
Objectives :
This issue aims to provide a better understanding of the trajectories of migrant families and their contributions to the societies to which they belong. It aims to give an account of adaptation and integration strategies based on pre- and post-migration histories, through the prism of the family.
The methods come from a variety of disciplinary fields, including sociology, anthropology, social and transcultural psychiatry, literature, psychology, social work and history. The various qualitative approaches mainly concern family and individual trajectories, as well as intergenerational trajectories, in different societies.
Family transformations result from factors linked to the family’s pre-migration past, but also from the characteristics of the society where migrants arrive, including the bureaucracy surrounding migration and settlement, the services provided (or not provided) to migrant families, non-recognition of qualifications and work experience, discrimination, and so on. These aspects that are « external » to the family can condition relationships, well-being and the quality of life within the family.
Conclusion :
Migration transforms families who arrive or that are formed in host countries. Their integration and participation in host societies and the links maintained with the country of origin are influenced by a series of individual, family, societal and global factors. In particular, parental migration can have significant consequences on the well-being of children who may have experienced trauma and anxiety arising from difficult situations along the way.
Contribution :
Using a multidisciplinary, qualitative approach, the authors demonstrate the importance of documenting family issues associated with migration. The complexity of migrants’ journeys, their resilience and their ability to adapt to the host society described in this issue bear witness to the urgent need to work towards better recognition of their skills, simplify administrative procedures and facilitate their access to healthcare.

Keywords: international migrants, family, couple, gender, trajectories, integration, participation, politics, return, youth mental health

Migrating as a couple: changing marital dynamics and redefining priorities in the face of migratory challenges
Anna Goudet

Research framework: The challenges faced by immigrant families in Quebec are well documented, but we know little about their effects on couples, especially those that remain together. The scientific literature on conjugal dynamics in migration is often limited to the emancipatory potential of migration for women within their couples. Nevertheless, a part of the literature reveals how the family becomes a refuge from the structural inequalities experienced in migration, which does not occur without asymmetries between spouses.

Objectives: The aim of this article is to propose a new reading of the conjugal dynamics in migration based on the cases of highly qualified, bi-active couples through the perspective of money management and residential trade-offs between spouses.

Methodology: The empirical material comes from individual interviews of the “narratives of life places” type conducted with immigrants (n=25) of various origins in heterosexual couples, cohabiting and parenting, settled in the Montreal area and selected in the category of “qualified workers” by Quebec.

Results: Three ways of “making a couple” in migration emerge. They depend on the premigratory conjugal ideal, on the confrontation with migratory ordeals, and on the redefinition of the spouses’ priorities during settlement. The weight of migratory hardships varies according to couples, their resources, and their characteristics.

Conclusions: Our analyses show that migratory hardships redefine the notion of “success” of the migratory project for these couples, in which the priority given to family well-being is increased. Migration thus becomes a possible driver of inequality within couples, to the detriment of female partners.

Contribution: Better settlement conditions are needed if these spouses are to reconcile their ideal conceptions of the couple with their new reality.

Keywords: couple, immigration, money, housing, gender

Immigration, desires for children and family plans: study on the life course of South Asian women who recently immigrated to Montreal
Jacqueline Schneider

Research framework: Few Quebec studies adopt an analytical angle capable of targeting the structural issues affecting the sphere of reproduction of immigrant women, particularly those from the Global South, who may be marked by specific issues.

Objective: This article analyzes the reconstructions of the desire for children and the family plans of South Asian women who recently immigrated to Montreal, with a particular focus on the structural issues that shape them and the responses formulated by the women in this regard.

Methodology: The study was based on ethnographic research conducted over 13 months in a Montreal neighborhood, where 39 biographical narratives focused on the perinatal period were documented, a corpus to which 8 case studies are added.

Results: Women who have a professional project inherent in their migratory project draw their desires for children through identity strategies deployed in response to difficulties in integrating into the world of professional work. Asylum seekers, for their part, seem to deploy identity strategies when they play on fertility to cope with their life contexts, but may be constrained by migratory status. Finally, some sponsored women decide to suspend new pregnancies, partly because of the impoverishment of the female support network.

Conclusion: Immigration projects, with the migratory statuses and post-migratory projections they imply, act as a form of governance on the negotiation of the relationship to reproduction of the women we meet, and structure the most intimate dimensions of identities.

Contribution: Our article thus challenges the idea that immigration to the North is a potentially liberating experience for women from the South.

Mots-clés: longing for children, family project, fertility, reproductive politics, identity strategies, migration project, immigration, perinatality, South Asian women

Parenting at the Intersection of Different Sociocultural Contexts: The Experience of Refugee Mothers from the Middle East in Quebec, Canada
Caroline Clavel, Liesette Brunson, Thomas Saïas

Research Framework: Refugee parents are particularly at risk of experiencing structural, social and mental health difficulties upon arrival in Quebec. Among the many challenges encountered, settling in a sociocultural context different from that of their country of origin can lead to significant difficulties, especially when these contexts include discordant elements. These challenges are likely to be heightened when children are between 0 and 5 years old.

Objectives : This study explores the experience of parenthood among refugee mothers who find themselves at the intersection of different sociocultural contexts and who have a child between the age of 0 and 5. How do they experience parenthood in the face of different cultural elements?

Methodology: Fifteen participants were interviewed via semi-structured interviews about their values, their parenting goals, and the challenges they have encountered as mothers since their arrival in the Quebec sociocultural context.

Results: The results reveal sociocultural differences within three themes: 1) how they conceive the family and the ties within it, 2) how they conceive the ties with the neighbourhood, as a support network, and 3) how they conceive their child’s individual freedoms and rights.

Conclusions: Analysis of the results highlights a difference underlying all three themes: the importance of the collective in the daily lives of the participants, as opposed to the individualism that they feel prevails in Quebec. The discussion underlines the multi-systemic dimension of this difference, and illustrates how it affects refugee mothers’ everyday experience.

Contribution: The study provides a better understanding of the settlement experience of refugee mothers in Quebec. A number of recommendations and avenues of intervention are proposed to help support refugee families.

Mots-clés: refugee, forced migration, parenthood, early childhood, maternity, culture, post-migration

The Influence of Family Relationships in the Migration Process: the Case of Guadeloupean Emigration (1963-1981)
Malika Danican

Research framework: With the help of the “Bureau des migrations intéressant les Départements d’Outre-mer (BUMIDOM)”, thousands of Guadeloupeans left their island for a better future. In their decision to leave, or to return, family ties have influenced their choices and migration experience.

Objective: This article looks at the mechanisms operating within the couple and extended family that influence the migratory process of Guadeloupeans who emigrated to mainland France between 1963 and 1981 under the BUMIDOM scheme.

Methodology: Semi-directive individual life story interviews were conducted in Guadeloupe and France with 31 participants on the migration policy who left Guadeloupe between 1963 and 1981, aged 64 to 87 at the time of the interview in 2022. The life-course approach as a framework for analysis highlights similarities and divergences of experience, and discourse analysis enables us to understand the way in which the family intervenes in migration choices.

Results: While the motivations for leaving initially express a need for individualization and emancipation, the migratory experience is significantly oriented and influenced by the migratory imaginary and family ties. The question of “returning home”, when it arises, marks the limits of individualization and often determines the choice of the society to which one belongs.

Conclusion: Family dynamics are an integral part of the decision to emigrate. Migration choices are influenced by the imaginary and representations of the host society; these representations circulate in the emigration society and are conveyed both by the migrants themselves and their entourage.

Contribution: Families play a key role in the emigration process. This article questions the limits of the individualization of trajectories in a migratory context and focuses on the family logics that influence choices in a migratory context.

Mots-clés: life course, family ties, France, migration policy, trajectories, Guadeloupe, migration imagination, BUMIDOM

Family Transformations and Asylum Procedures in France
Naoual Mahroug

Research framework: The study is at the crossroads of two theoretical fields: the condition of the exile and the sociology of the family.

Objective : The article aims to analyze the family reconfigurations involved in asylum application procedures.

Methodology: A two-year ethnographic field study (2018-2019) was carried out in the Centre d’hébergement d’urgence pour migrants (CHUM) and the Centre de premier accueil (CPA) managed by an association. The families housed there come mainly from Albania, Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.

Results: A birth, the formation of a couple or even a separation are all events that place exiled families in anthemic situations, between the stability generated by these family events, which implies a projection into the future, and the insecurity of asylum procedures, which forces them to remain stuck in the present. These family events are used in different ways by migrant families: either as a means of emancipation, as a factor of “vulnerability” in an attempt to improve living conditions, or as experiential knowledge.

Conclusions : The temporalities of asylum procedures and of family changes clash to the point of generating situations of great instability. Furthermore, the superimposition of statuses (that of asylum seekers, woman and mother) leads to paradoxes and even feelings of ambivalence in the daily lives of these women housed in centres.

Contribution : Looking beyond the realities of France, the article reflects on the experiences of women asylum seekers in shelters from the perspective of their family projects. In this way, we are able to move away from the asylum procedures imposed on exiles, and graps subjectivity through family changes. Following on the sociology of the family and the emergency context, we understand how families are constructed, and how links are made and broken.

Mots-clés: migrant shelter, exile, ethnography, France, subjectivity, family reconfiguration

Alliances, Continuity and Erasing Origins
Patricia Bessaoud-Alonso

Research Framework: The family studied here underwent successive waves of “displacement” in different temporalities and spatialities: from Spain to Algeria, then from Algeria to France. The family novel (de Gaulejac, 2007) is built on successive borrowings, which are reworked by each generation for each of its subjects. This process is at the crossroads between identifying with or distancing from the culture of origin. The generations studied have a different relationship to time and to the “primary” identity conveyed by the family name, which oscillates between domination and subjugation (Foucault, 1976; 1993) in the complexity of becoming a subject in one’s own family institution. Family genealogy reflects the historical-political trials and tribulations of migratory social trajectories, as well as the conscious and unconscious subjective constructions of its members.

Objectives : The aim of this article is to understand how family trajectories are shaped by alliances, strategies for erasing origins, as well as continuities and ruptures.

Methodology: This long-term study uses a qualitative methodology (non-directive interviews, ethnographic observation, group interviews), family and historical archives.

Results: The sense of belonging to colonial Algeria was built up and then deconstructed in this family. Mnemonic traces and social transformations have an impact on the younger generation’s recognition of their migratory history.

Conclusion : Family history in the colonial context and then in metropolitan France has been redeveloped by each generation that hovers between their origins’ erasure and intergenerational transmission.

Contribution : The family history of the pied-noir of Algeria, which led to their exile, is part of a fundamental process that is similar to any migratory trajectory.

Mots-clés: family trajectories, alliance games, social and subjective transformations

Hermeneutic approach to the experience of children from migrant families during youth mental health consultation: fragility, taming through art and re-enchantment of the world
Prudence Caldairou-Bessette, Laurance Ouellet-Tremblay, Lucie Nadeau, Mélanie Vachon

Research framework: Since migration, particularly when forced, can affect children psychologically, youth mental health consultation (YMH) can be part of the journey for migrant families. While rare articles describe this experience for families and young people (highschool), that of children (elementary school) remains even less explored.

Objective: This article examines the data of interviews integrating play and drawings conducted with 20 children from 15 migrant families who consulted in YMH (some of whom were refugees, asylum seekers or without status). The objective is to explore the children’s experience using an innovative art-based analysis method.

Methodology: We propose a hermeneutic method combining transcultural psychiatry, humanistic psychology and the interpretation of data through creative writing. Consistent with these anchors, interview data are presented narratively in the form of examples. The interpretation of the data includes the creation of a literary text entitled Jungle and Religion.

Results: The interpretation highlights 3 aspects of the children’s experience: 1) the migratory experience and the fragility it implies, 2) the use of art and play as a means of taming trauma, and 3) the idealization of the intervention.

Conclusion: The children’s experience highlights both the confusion/fear induced by migration and the compensatory role that intervention can play, creating the possibility of living out dashed hopes, but also that of rebuilding the world for the child.

Contribution: Interpretation of the results based on art and creative writing has enabled us to translate the children’s experience more accurately and to better represent it in written language, whereas it was mainly conveyed to us by the children in spoken words, play and images.

Mots-clés: children's experience, youth mental health, migrant family, transcultural psychiatry, humanistic psychology, narrative approach, hermeneutics, art-based research, fiction-based research, creative littérature

How do Fathers View their Paternal Commitment and their Relationship with Early Childhood Professionals?
Cecilia Scacchitti, Bernard Fusulier, Céline Mahieu

Research framework: It is now well documented that fathers are more involved than before in the care and education of their children, even if these involvements are not monolithic and depend on many contextual and internal family factors. In addition, the relationships that develop between fathers and childcare professionals are still a matter of debate.

Objectives: This article aims to understand the conceptions and representations that fathers have of their role based on a qualitative survey conducted in French-speaking Belgium. The objective was to learn how they perceive their involvement as fathers and their relationships with medical and social support professionals.

Methodology: In French-speaking Belgium, a survey of 21 fathers of young children was conducted through semi-structured interviews. The analysis was based on comprehensive narratives and portraits whose convergences and divergences were identified to reconstitute ideal types.

Results: Based on the interviews analysis, the authors outline four ideal types of paternal involvement, while highlighting the associated expectations of professional intervention.

Conclusions: Faced with the rise in paternal involvement and the diversity of the forms it takes, it is essential for early childhood professionals to question the representations that fathers have of their role and of the relationship they wish to maintain with them.

Contribution: This article sheds light on the diversity of fathers’ points of view today in French-speaking Belgium concerning their paternal involvement, and questions the degree of adequacy or inadequacy between the system of varied expectations on the part of fathers and the way professionals are likely to respond to them.

Keywords: fatherhood, parental involvement, paternal identity, paternal assessment, Healthcare professional, therapeutic relationship, parental support, Belgium

Debt and Mental Health: The Role of Financial Arrangement and the Distribution of Economic Responsibilities within the Couple
Caroline Henchoz, Tristan Coste, Boris Wernli

Research Framework: Debt has been little studied as a socio-economic disadvantage contributing to poor health. The literature suggests that problematic debt is linked to poorer mental health. This is attributed in part to the financial management difficulties involved, but the mechanisms of this link are poorly understood.

Objectives: This article aims to verify whether the effect of debt on mental health varies according to the financial arrangement and the distribution of economic responsibilities within the couple.

Methodology: We used the longitudinal analyses of Swiss Household Panel (SHP) data (1999-2019).

Results: While the longitudinal approach shows that the onset of problematic debt does lead to a decline in mental health, our results do not confirm the influence of financial management. However, we show that there are different types of management among indebted couples and that in most cases, only one of the spouses assumes the responsibility, the woman more often than the man. Women have the lowest level of mental health, probably because they are more often handling money of the most precarious households.

Conclusions: Financial management patterns are associated with different levels of mental health, but this relationship could not be demonstrated in an isolated event (problematic debt) measured in a one-time fashion. We hypothesize that they have a longer-term influence.

Contribution: Our study contributes to the knowledge on the socio-economic dimensions of health. By opening the black box of households, it explores financial management, a blind spot in research on the links between mental health and debt.

Mots-clés: money management, debt, longitudinal analysis, mental health, gender, swiss household panel, household finances, financial management

Relay or Mediator? From the Difficult Resistance of Parenting Support to School Instrumentalization in a Swiss Canton
Xavier Conus

Research Framework: With a focus on the parental role, parenting support measures have become a lever for public policies aimed at preventing and combating inequality. Seen as a resource for explaining the school’s expectations to parents, these measures place a great deal of emphasis on school-related issues.

Objectives: The aim of this article is to understand how the managers of parenting support organizations in a Swiss canton comprehend their relationship with schools and their role in relation to school issues, and how this translated into their work with parents.

Methodology: As part of a comprehensive qualitative research, data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with the managers of 8 parenting support organizations in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, with different institutional affiliations. A thematic categorical analysis was conducted, using a mixed-method approach.

Results: In addition to confirming the importance of school issues in their efforts to support parenthood, the managers we interviewed adopt 2 different approaches. They see their organization either as a mediator between the school and parents, or as a relay for the school’s expectations of parents. Difficulties in collaborating with the school hinder each of these positions to varying degrees.

Conclusions: Not only do school-related issues play an essential role in parenting support initiatives, but they also tend to maintain a prescriptive approach to parenting support, with the school shifting responsibility to parents.

Contribution: This article highlights the insufficiently explored role of school issues in the tension inherent to parenthood support, between the desire to support parents and the risk of normative and standardizing their practices.

Mots-clés: parenting, support, school, inequalities, norms, Switzerland