07 SES 09 B, Transnational Perspectives
The paper will focus on the interconnection of transnational family organisation and educational careers. It will analyse educational careers of transnational children and teenagers. According to Katy Gardner (2012), “transnational children can live as part of settled communities with an established ‘homeland’ elsewhere, can move across borders for work” – but also for education – “or be part of families and communities in which migration abroad is an established way of life; whilst some may migrate themselves, others may be left behind” (892). Research findings on transnational families from various subject perspectives show that educational opportunities and social mobility for children play an important role in the establishment and long-term continuation of transnational family arrangements. Educational research, though, has not contributed much to the understanding of transnational families and children so far.
The paper will present a research project designed to investigate the complex and manifold interconnections between spatial mobility, social positioning and educational strategies in transnational social fields between Brazil and Europe. At present, an exploratory interview study is being conducted among Brazilian migrants in Germany that indicates such interconnections. The research project will investigate the following research questions:
In which ways do transnational family organisation, on the one hand, and the pursuit of educational careers and educational upward mobility for children, on the other hand, interact with each other?
What kinds of connections between spatial mobility, social mobility and educational strategies can be identified?
What is the impact of class, gender and racialisation processes on transnational educational strategies and social positioning in transnational contexts?
Relying on first results of the exploratory study, the paper will discuss in how far transnational educational strategies of Brazilian migrants in Europe are part of social positioning. The impact of class, gender and racialisation processes on educational strategies and careers will be taken into account.
Peggy Levitt and Nina Glick Schiller (2004) propose a “social field approach” to the study of transnational migration that will serve as a theoretical framework in the project on migration end education between Brazil and Europe. They define “social field as a set of multiple interlocking networks of social relationships through which ideas, practices, and resources are unequally exchanged, organized, and transformed. (…) National social fields (…) stay within national boundaries while transnational social fields connect actors through direct and indirect relations across borders” (1009). Migrants may belong to various national and transnational social fields at the same time.
Two former educational research projects are a point of departure for the presented study: In these projects, we have found that the theoretical framework of transnationalism (Glick Schiller et al 1997) led to a better understanding of the educational careers of children and young people from migrant families. Both projects originally were not designed to investigate education from a transnational perspective, but in both cases the transnational organisation of families turned out to be highly relevant for educational careers – and vice versa. The projects were on German-Portuguese adolescents and on teenagers from Africa with diverse legal statuses in Germany. Both were qualitative studies (Fürstenau 2005; Niedrig 2008; Fürstenau/Niedrig 2009). For the analysis of the research findings, we drew on Pierre Bourdieu to describe young peoples’ social positioning by educational and cultural capital. National social fields remained important because of the national education systems’ dominant role for the certification of cultural capital. At the same time, though, educational strategies were influenced by the different and sometimes even contradictory social positions of the young migrants in national and transnational social fields.
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