WP6 – Migrants’ personal and family aspirations and the laws: a bottom-up study of everyday strategies and lived experiences.
This work package is concerned with giving voice to migrants and their subjectivities through a longitudinal and in-depth qualitative study of Congolese, Indian and US migrants living in Belgium. The main aim is to gain an understanding of migrants’ relation to different legal frameworks, to spot whether and where they have any agency in achieving their family, professional and migratory aspirations. A major focus is thus on the ways these projects articulate with the opportunities and constrains offered by the Belgian and European legal systems. As such, we pay particular attention to the role that social and family networks play in enhancing migrants' ability to achieve their objectives – thus concentrating on intra-familial relations, employer-employee power relations, as well as gender and class inequalities.
Within the framework of this project we met with 53 men and women from the DRC, India and the US who entered Belgium under a variety of legal statuses at most 8 years ago. This means that we approached migrants who are still in the initial phases of settling in the country. We paid particular attention in including a balanced number of male and female participants, as well as of different resident permits, socio-economic backgrounds, levels of education.
Our fieldwork started with semi-structured interviews based on an interview guide elaborated together with the two other teams. Questions covered the following major themes: the experience of migrating transnationally, including the motives for migrating, development of legal statuses, and employment as well as family history; migratory, family, employment and educational projects and how they changed over time; strategies adopted to deal with legal constraints, including the eventual support received from family and other social networks; policies and practices of governmental actors, administrators, and employers, which have enhanced or constrained the ability to fulfil personal and family aspirations. Following this first round of interviews, we proceed with standard semi-structured interviews carried out in person or via phone, email or Skype. Here we collected data concerning the evolution of interviewees’ family, professional and legal situation, as well as the evolution of projects and aspirations.
– Sarah Smit, CIRFaSe
– Dr Giacomo Orsini, CIRFaSe
– Dr Grégory Dallemagne, CIRFaSe (from September 2016 to March 2017)
Principal Investigators :
– Prof. Jacques Marquet et Prof. Laura Merla