Thomas Geisen presents his paper 'The complexity of migration: life-strategies of migrant family members and families' in Parallel session I(D) of the conference Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond, 24-26 Sept 2013
In migration research the concepts of network and transnationalism gained new insights on migrants as social actors. Most important was, that decision-making and balancing processes became bound back to the individual and its network-relations. In this course a new emphasis was given to the relevance of the migrant family as an important social actor in migration processes. For transnationalism the family is the most important social unit, which binds individuals together in an intergenerational social context, often over long geographical distances. It seems, that the family has become the most emplematic social form of transnationalism. However, looking at concrete family practices it can be shown, that the family itself is embedded into wider social relations build within the community or the society. Based on own empirical research on migrant families, the proposed paper wants do develop a conceptional approch for migration research which is centered on migrants as social actors. Here migration is understood in a wider perspective as a change in residence beyond communal borders. Starting with such a perspective not only different forms of migration can be identified in a biographical or life-course perspective. It can be shown as well what relevance the experience of migration and mobility has for individual and collective actors, wat motifs are relevant for migrants in intergenerational and interactional perspective, and what individual and collective motifs and orientations lead migrants and migrant families to migrate . Under such a process-perspective of migration, the still existing cleavage in migration research between international and internal migration shows its limitations for understanding migrants and their families. Based on Norbert Elias concept of figuration and on Ernest Jouhys concept of social relations, the proposed paper seeks to discuss the complexity of migration by introducing the concept of live-strategies to enrich the understanding of migration networks and dynamics by discussing the decisive relevance of the 'subjecitve factor' for understanding the migration of family members and migrant families.