22 SES 09 B, (Post)doctoral researchers and students
The European Union is shaking in a political, cultural and economic sense. Some member states show (strong) tendencies of authoritarianism and some countries are overwhelmed or surprised by new populist parties and movements, which often use national and anti-EU rhetoric’s. These developments also directly and indirectly affect the higher education systems and institutions in those respective countries, whereas the attack on the Central European University in Budapest was just the most prominent and obvious one. Therefore, the situation of higher education within the EU is changing and the exit of Great Britain from the Union is just another important factor in this development. In this context, it is interesting to look into researcher’s mobility and migration pattern and decisions within the context of the EU. More researchers became mobile over the last decades and ‘transnationalized’ (Pherali 2012), ‘Europeanized’ (Fligstein 2008) or ‘internationalized’ (Herschberg 2018) their lives and careers, undoubtedly as a consequence of the internationalization of higher education in general (Knight 2007). These different terms and concepts show how many different and quite distinctive ways of migration and mobility can be found among people who decided to relocate or integrate mobility in some form in their lives. The described changing institutional, societal and economic surroundings (in the EU) certainly play into those decisions, and can foster intra-EU academic mobility but also slow it down or hinder.
This paper asks, what kind of orientations of mobility can be found among doctoral researchers with experience of relocation and mobility and how they define and wish for (non-)mobile life styles after their graduation. This question is shaped by personal priorities and decisions as well as the influence of family, partner and other individuals of relevance in the life course, but is also embedded in the above described (supra-)national environment, which includes the field of higher education, but standards of living as well.
To differentiate the forms and orientation of mobility (or the absence of it), the paper will draw on current research on mobility of academics (Teichler 2015), transnationalism, Europeanization and internationalization of academics. Those consideration will be embedded in a life course perspective (Heinz et al 2009) as the sequence of events and the experience of the past do shape the future decisions and orientation (Findlay et al. 2015). Private aspects of the conduct of life should be considered, too, which is an integral part of the life course perspective. This combination of life course perspective and concepts of internationalization and transnationalism will help to understand, what kind of orientations regarding mobility can be found among doctoral candidates and how they developed such orientations. Transnationalism is the engagement of individuals in cross-border mobility, networks, social practices and interactions (Faist 2000; Mau et al. 2008). Whereas internationalization is the complete disconnection from national boundaries or nation-states and can be considered as the individual equivalent to globalization. Europeanization is an orientation and conduct of life connected to European collectivization processes (Verwiebe & Müller 2006). The term describes how the national frame is replaced by a supra-national (European) one and functions as the parameter of relevance for the individual. Europeanization can be understood as a specific form of transnationalism (Heidenreich et al. 2012; Mau & Mewes 2012), but is closely connected to the establishment of the European Union and its institutions, which pose a unique institutional constellation. For that reason, Europeanization will be discussed separately.
The analysis draws on a sample of 59 foreign doctoral candidates in France or the Netherlands. Empirical data is collected through biographical interviews from graduates of the SSH (social sciences and humanities), who completed their studies at German universities and work as PhD candidates at Dutch or French universities at the time of the interviews, have been conducted. Mobility in the SSH is less frequent and harder to achieve because ‘language skills and cultural knowledge are often necessary for conducting research projects.’ (Jöns 2007: 88) France and the Netherlands were chosen as representatives for the EU. With their high percentage of Germans amongst students and academic staff they are practical examples for our empirical research. 59 interviews have been implemented, 35 in the Netherlands and 24 in France. The biographical interview is a suitable instrument for the research questions, because it reveals through its in-depth narration all dimensions - professional and private - of orientation in the accumulation of mobility capital. This type of interview gives the interviewees the chance to emphasize on the relevant topics and things of their own, without imposing the researcher’s ideas and notions on them (Corbin & Morse 2003). It starts with an open stimulus, to unfold a personal narration, which ensures a good quality of information. An interview guideline was only used for subjects that were not addresses in the original narration. For analysis, Documentary Method (Nohl 2009; Bohnsack et al. 2013; Bohnsack 2014) is applied. It has the advantage to uncover not only explicit orientations and motivations but also implicit ones. This is very fruitful in the context of the research question, because the own mobile lifestyle is not necessarily reflected in the narration, although it still is there. The DM allows to carve out episodes and passages of importance for the development of the way of living of the interviewees, without having him or her speak about it directly. For that, Documentary method analysis is especially beneficial in combination with biographical interviews.
The following outcomes are still preliminary results, but give an idea what kind of different future mobility orientation among doctoral candidates can be found. The here presented orientations are by no means categories with hard boundaries but fluent and overlapping to some extent, and are also bound to time windows the life course of the interviewees. Orientation ‘coming home’ The first orientation emphasizes on the need and/or desire to go back to the home city or home region in Germany, where he or she had his or her upbringing, went to school and where usually the parents still live. Although the specific reasons for this decision vary among the cases, the dominant motifs are a kind of home sickness and (the feel of) obligations. Orientation ‘going back’ This orientation is dominated by the wish of relocating back to Germany after the PhD phase. In demarcation to the first orientation, it is not about the home city or region, but more about a wish to work and live in Germany again. This orientation is mainly driven by career perspectives, language issues and the upbringing of children. Orientation ‘integration and settling’ This term referees to the country of the PhD, ergo France or the Netherlands. The emphasis in integration and settling lies on the settling as integration is usually already much progressed. This orientation is very much connected to a partner of the respective country and in some cases bi-national children. The length of stay plays also into it. Orientation ‘total mobility’ The last orientation describes people in our sample that show the willingness or even the desire to stay completely mobile after doctoral graduation, with the readiness to go to any country which offer an interesting perspective research-wise.
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