Remote fatherhood and visiting husbands: seasonal migration and men’s position within families, Comparative Migration Studies
Comparative Migration Studies, 2019, 7:2
Seasonal migration from Poland to Germany has a long history, yet, there has been a lack of research which would discuss the perpetuating seasonal migration and its entanglements with the family relations. Drawing from the research on seasonal migrants in Germany and in the local community in Poland I look at the situation of male migrants and their family relations in order to add to this research strand.
Doing so I built on the context of gender relations in Poland and the still dominant role of men as economic providers and breadwinners. In the economically challenging post-socialist context, fulfilling this societal obligation placed upon them proved to be problematic. Thus migration has become a strategy of social protection, aimed to minimize the social risks to family’s wellbeing linked to unemployment and unstable labour market.
Seasonal migration pattern and family relations have mutually constructed each other in a way that, instead of creating transnational familyhood, it may translate into defamilisation: estrangement or marginalisation of the migrants. It thus demonstrates how men’s recurring absence affects gender dynamics and their position within families. The way families have adapted to prolonging absence of the migrant and in fact living apart together can be viewed, as I argue, as the non-economic reasons for the perpetuation of seasonal migration of Polish men to Germany. This paper also addresses modernisation of gender roles and points to the importance of the class dimension. Whilst the discourse on fathering or conjugal relationship usually builds on egalitarian gender roles, this paper, applying the intersectional lenses, brings in the perspective of the working class and rural migrant workers.
family, fatherhood, gender, masculinity, seasonal migration