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Doing Family on the Move

Highly-Skilled Migrants in Switzerland and Germany

Florian Tissot

This book focuses on the coordination between family life and professional career under the condition of repeated mobilities. It analyses the division between the labour force work and the care work of couples of highly-skilled migrants settling in either Switzerland or Germany. A mutually exclusive model provides an innovative understanding of gendered hierarchies in career achievement. The male partners operate three parallel elements: an upward professional career, a family-life implying child(ren), and maintaining their availability to further unplanned relocations. The female partners can only coordinate two of these concurrently. In fact, the male partners combine the three elements by taking advantage of specific, and mostly invisible, care work that the female partner provides.

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List of Figures

List of Tables

1 Introduction

1.1 Relevance of the Study

1.2 Structure of the Study

Theoretical Part

2 Moving with Skills: A Review of the Literature

2.1 Historical Overview

2.2 Conceptual Overview

2.2.1 State

2.2.2 Employer

2.2.3 Migrants, Families, and Couples

2.3 Highly-Skilled Migration Studies

2.3.1 Dichotomising Migration

2.3.2 Deepening Migration

2.3.3 Intermediary Summary: Construction of a Polarisation I

2.4 Expatriation Studies

2.4.1 Defining Expatriates

2.4.2 Assigned Expatriate and Self-Initiated Expatriate

2.4.3 Expatriate Adjustments

2.4.4 Intermediary Summary: Construction of a Polarisation II

2.5 Gender and Highly-Skilled Migration

2.5.1 Gender Binaries

2.5.2 Gender as a Dichotomous Variable

2.5.3 Gender as a Relational and Situational Feature

2.5.4 Intermediary Summary: Overcoming the Polarisation

3 Decentring the Research on Highly-Skilled Migration and Expatriation: Three Methodological Premises

3.1 Decentring and Deconstructing

3.2 Methodological Individualism

3.2.1 Defining the Family and the Couple

3.2.2 The Hidden Economy of Kinship

3.2.3 Doing Family

3.3 Methodological Nationalism

3.3.1 Changing the Entry Points

3.4 Methodological Economism

3.4.1 Mobility and Migration

3.4.2 Temporal Mobilities and Permanent Migration

3.4.3 Defining and Problematising the Skills

3.5 Research Questions

Methodological Part

4 Research Design

4.1 Epistemology

4.2 Methods in Practice

4.2.1 Accessing the Field

4.2.2 Constructing the Interview Corpus

4.2.3 Analysing the Interview Corpus

5 Contextualising the Study

5.1 Contextualising the Researcher

5.2 Contextualising the Lake Geneva Region and Frankfurt Rhine-Main Region

5.2.1 Family Policy in the two Regions

Empirical Part

6 Professional Careers Coordination

6.1 Migration Triggering: An Individual Approach

6.1.1 Assigned Expatriate

6.1.2 Drawn Expatriate

6.1.3 Intra Self-Initiated Expatriate

6.1.4 Inter Self-Initiated Expatriate

6.2 Migration Triggering: A Collective Approach

6.2.1 Primary-Mover and Secondary-Mover

6.3 Conceptualising the Professional Careers Coordination

6.4 Primary-Mover

6.4.1 Expat-Move

6.4.2 Local-Move

6.4.3 Continuum of the Primary-Mover

6.5 Secondary-Mover and Secondary-Stayer

6.5.1 Total-Move of a Partner-Initiated Mover

6.5.2 Unique Challenges of a Partner-Initiated Mover

6.5.3 Half-Move of a Partner-Coordinated Mover

6.5.4 Immobility of a Secondary-Stayer

6.5.5 Access to the Labour Force

6.5.6 Types of Moves of the Secondary-Mover

6.6 Theorising the Professional Careers Coordination

7 Representing Migration: Between Motilities and Anchors

7.1 Displaying Family

7.2 Motile Narratives

7.2.1 Structural Constraints

7.2.2 Career Men and Career Women

7.2.3 Paradoxical Family Men

7.3 Anchored Narratives

7.3.1 Ignoring Motility

7.3.2 Refusing Motility

7.3.3 After Motility

7.4 Gender and Motility

8 Family-Strategies of Highly-Skilled Migrants

8.1 Conceptualising the Family-Strategies

8.2 Motile Family-Strategy

8.2.1 Prioritising one Career

8.2.2 Homemaking and Caregiving

8.2.3 Company’s Support

8.3 Local Family-Strategy

8.3.1 Low Support for the Care Work

8.3.2 Combination of Formal, Informal and Non-Formal Care Support

8.3.3 Separations and Divorces

8.4 Mobile Family-Strategy

8.4.1 Succession of Half-Moves

8.4.2 Power-Dynamics

8.4.3 Mobile Family-Strategy and Children

8.5 Theorising the Family-Strategies

8.5.1 Care Work Organisation and Social Networks

8.5.2 Iterative Logic, Path-Dependency, and Conflicts

8.5.3 Mutually Exclusive Model

Discussion Part

9 Theoretical and Empirical Insights

9.1 Decentring the Literature and the Research Design

9.2 Doing Family on the Move

9.2.1 Consequences following the Decision to Migrate

9.2.2 Narratives Displaying the Division of the Tasks

9.2.3 Family-Strategies

10 Recommendations for Practice

10.1 Migration, Children, and Gender Wage Gap

10.2 Childcare in the Geneva and the Frankfurt regions

10.3 Family-Friendly Companies

10.4 Summary of the Implications for Further Research and the Recommendations for Practice

11 Conclusion: Motility and Mobility