Becoming a ‘Refugee Parent’. The making and doing of forced migrants’ parenthood in the context of early childhood education and care -Sandermann/Kakar/Husen/Schwenker/Wenzel (Lueneburg/GER)
Complementary Social Support for Unaccompanied Immigrant Youths in Spain: A critical outlook to the role of youth mentoring in Barcelona – Prieto-Flores/Casademont/Alarcon (Girona/ESP)
Host Families for Unaccompanied Minors as Formalized Living Together: Multi-perspective insights in the aptitude procedure and the matching process as co-constructive life-world appropriations – Gottschalk (Bochum/GER)
Transnational Family Work? Social workers’ perspectives on the absent parents of unaccompanied minor refugees – Schmitt (Klagenfurt/AUT)
Becoming a ‘Refugee Parent’. The making and doing of forced migrants’ parenthood in the context of early childhood education and care – Sandermann, Philipp / Kakar, Hila / Husen, Onno / Schwenker, Vanessa / Wenzel, Laura (Lueneburg/GER)
‘The refugee family’ is a social construction. It is based on institutionally far-reaching distinctions, interest-led perspectivations and abstractions (Rass & Wolff, 2018). They crystallize in (social and regulatory) policies, media, and mirror considerably in previous academic research (Lingen-Ali & Mecheril, 2020).
Existing research perspectives in the broader field of family research, which are more sensitive for the heterogeneity of family forms (Maihofer, 2014) and the ‘doing’ of family (Morgan, 2011), are still underrepresented in empirical research on (forced) migrants’ family forms, and vice versa. Hence, ideas of “normal families” have quite continuously been translated into theories on family forms of (forced) migrants.
It is our aim to give an example of how to overcome such affirmative reproduction of ‘the refugee family’ in academic research, without underestimating its powerful normalization so far. To this aim, we focus on the making and doing of forced migrants’ parenthood.
In Germany, parents with children between the ages of 0 and 6 years represent an important target group of early childhood education and care (ECEC) arrangements. Consequently, they become addressed by various (intermediary) actors in the field. Within our interdisciplinary joint research project “Integration Through Trust” (Leuphana University of Lüneburg, 2019), we focus on how refugee parents who migrated to Germany build trust in ECEC services. Here, we draw from ethnographic observations, ethnographic interviews with parents and social service workers, and representative results from a standardized questionnaire on the parents’ subjective views on the matter.
During our presentation, we will outline how, on the one hand, parents become addressed by social services, daycare facilities, and other ECEC offers, such as parenting education programs, and over this course become made ‘refugee parents’ (which includes specific gender biases, problematizations and responsibilizations that reify the parents as a risk for a potentially failed integration of their children). On the other hand, our reconstructions of trust building processes between the parents and ECEC professionals and volunteers show how the parents participate in doing parenthood, but also become embedded in the afore-mentioned institutional interests of making ‘refugee parenthood.’
Lingen-Ali, U., Mecheril, P. (2020): Familie und Migrationsgesellschaft. Zwei Topoi und ihre Verschränkung. In: Ecarius, J., Schierbaum, A. (Hg.). Handbuch Familie. Erziehung, Bildung und pädagogische Arbeitsfelder. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 1-17.
Maihofer, A. (2014): Familiale Lebensformen zwischen Wandel und Persistenz. Eine zeitdiagnostische Zwischenbetrachtung. In: Behnke C./Lengersdorfer, D./Scholz, S. (Hrsg.), Wissen – Methode – Geschlecht. Erfassen des fraglos Gegebenen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 313-334.
Morgan, D.H.J. (2011): Rethinking Family Practices. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Rass, C. & Wolff, F. (2018): What is in a Migration Regime? Genealogical Approach and Methodological Proposal. In Pott, A., Rass, C. & Wolff, F. (eds.), What is a Migration Regime? Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 19-64.
Complementary Social Support for Unaccompanied Immigrant Youths in Spain: A critical outlook to the role of youth mentoring in Barcelona – Prieto-Flores, Òscar / Casademont, Xavier / Alarcon, Xavier (Girona/ESP)
The growing number of unaccompanied immigrant youths arriving through Mediterranean routes from north and western African countries to Spain is challenging the political and social interventions developed in the contexts of reception. Their transition to adulthood is troubled by the physical and geographical distance with their parents and the availability of networks of support in the host country. This qualitative study examines the transnational family support that unaccompanied youths receive, and the complementary or supplementary social support received from formal and informal mentors in the new context. Our findings from thirty semi-structured interviews with mentored youth, their adult mentors and non-mentored youth in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area between 2018 and 2019 shows how the formal support provided by institutional agents is insufficient to fulfil their psychological and emotional necessities. We conclude that the presence and companionship support received by adult mentors and the virtual presence of family caregivers encourages them in overcoming challenges regarding their wellbeing. Authors will also present implications for policy and practice from this data and will critically highlight how the Welfare state regime in Spain provides relationships of care to racialized youth based predominantly on a bureaucratic, discipline and punishment approach. Alternatives to this hegemonic trend, taking into consideration the voices of unaccompanied youth and mentoring experiences from a humanistic and critical approach will be discussed and shared with the audience.
Host Families for Unaccompanied Minors as Formalized Living Together: Multi-perspective insights in the aptitude procedure and the matching process as co-constructive life-world appropriations – Gottschalk, Ines (Bochum/GER)
In the context of the “Summer of Migration” many refugees came to Germany. Among them so-called unaccompanied minors who arrived in Germany without an adult accompany person. This article focuses on so-called host or foster families, which are seen by institutions as a way of providing adolescents security and protection and of ensuring individual, needs-oriented support for integration (see Betscher/Szylowicki 2016: 5). Training, counseling and information material indicate how the relationship can be structured in the anticipated best ways for the unaccompanied minor.
Part of my doctoral project is to reconstruct how host families apply this knowledge. I am interested in how formalization and standardization affect the experience of relationships as well as the practical arrangement and the position of the subjects within it. In the context of the presentation, I would like to take an exemplary look at a family, which was brought together by the Child and Youth Services. Using the example of the aptitude test and the matching process of the unaccompanied minor with the host family, we will look at how different actors fill these formal processes with meaning and significance and thus co-construct the relationship.
For this purpose, excerpts from empirically diverse material and different perspectives are triangulated: First, from a problem-centered interview (Witzel 2000) with an employee of the child and youth welfare service who accompanies the family. She reports to me on the meaning and purpose of selection procedures and the instruments used. Secondly, from a couple interview with the host parents, who tell me how they experienced the aptitude test and the selection process. And thirdly, from a “Tischgespräch” inspired by Keppler (1994) with all family members, in which they reconstruct together in front of me as an interviewer their getting to know each other, accompanied by the authorities.
Transnational Family Work? Social workers’ perspectives on the absent parents of unaccompanied minor refugees – Schmitt, Caroline (Klagenfurt/AUT)
In the past twenty years, transnational families have become a subject of extensive research (Sørensen & Vammen, 2014; Sauer et al., 2018; Westphal, Motzek-Öz & Aden, 2019; Reisenauer, 2020). Forms of transnational parenthood are discussed under the headings of “transnational motherhood”, “transnational fatherhood”, and “transnational parenting” (Hondagneu-Sotelo & Avila, 2016; Melander & Green, 2018) – especially against the background of “global care chains” (Hochschild, 2000; Parreñas, 2005). Despite this vast interest in families that constitute themselves across the borders of several nation-states, little research has been done on how social workers deal with physically separated family members in the context of flight migration. First study results indicate that social workers are certainly confronted with the parents of unaccompanied minors in their work (Kress & Kutscher, 2019; Findenig, Buchner & Klinger, 2019). This field of research needs a further exploration when Social Work does not aim to stay trapped in a “methodological nationalism” (Wimmer & Glick Schiller, 2002). The importance of parents and family is legally established in Germany. Social workers need to work in partnership with the parents of children and young people (Köngeter & Schulze-Krüdener, 2018). On the basis of a qualitative interview study, the lecture provides insight into an analysis of the perspectives of social workers on the absent parents of unaccompanied minor refugees and the (im-)possibilities of a transnational family work with family members living at different places in the world (Schmitt, 2021). The result is a typology consisting of five different types of family and parental work in a transnational family network: the type of recognition, helplessness, ambivalence, mediation and rejection. The characteristics of these types range from the diverse use of digital media for the purpose of family reunification, the (re-)negotiation of family roles across national borders, to the idea that parents would lose their relevance as soon as their children live separated from them in another country. The lecture argues for a transnational opening of family research and of a family-related Social Work.