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A life course perspective on parenting within transnational families of labor migrants from Poland and Romania in Sweden: the interplay between the institutional contexts and migrant parents’ strategies

Conference contribution
Authors Charlotte Melander
Oksana Shmulyar Gréen
Published in Transnational families: generations, differences and solidarity . Cluj-Napoca, Romania: 7-8 July 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Department of Social Work
Language en
Keywords EU mobility, transnational parenting, transnational care, life-course
Subject categories Sociology


This paper explores parental strategies and care arrangements within transnational families during the process of intra-EU labor migration. We focus on migrant families from Eastern Europe (Poland and Romania) where one or both parents migrated to Sweden for work and children were left in their home country and in most cases joined their parents in Sweden at a later date.The empirical findings we draw upon in this paper are qualitative interviews with migrant parents, both mothers and fathers, in the ongoing project Care-giving arrangements in the enlarged Europe: migrants’ parental strategies and the role of institutional context in Sweden. Using a life course approach, the paper analyses how the capacity within the institutional context and kinship networks in both sending and receiving societies interacts with parental strategies during different phases of the migration process. Using the life-course approach, we have identified specific events and turning points that have formative influences on parental strategies. Policy-wise, EU labor migrants undergo three formal phases in the course of migration: from ‘tourists’, to registered EU citizens, and finally to permanent residents in Sweden. In their real lives, as our results show however, migrant parents go through several particular phases and sequences of events, which condition transnational families’ opportunity structures across both time and space. These include decisions to migrate, family separations and care arrangements overcoming distance, uncertainty and semi-legality within the labor market and return, or eventually getting a proper job and residence right, which may lead to family reunification and settlement in Sweden.

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