Card image cap
Card image cap

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.