Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Families “Here” and “There”: Women, Migration and the Management of Emotions

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Abstract:

Based on interviews with 25 Irish nurses living and working in Britain, the primary aim of this paper is to explore migration as an ongoing emotional journey. Drawing on the work of Hochschild, the paper explores how migrants discuss, describe and manage their emotions. In particular, the paper will explore the role of “emotion culture” in shaping the appropriate management and display of feelings. I discuss the women's early experiences of migration and how they managed their emotions of loneliness and homesickness. I examine how the women navigate the emotional terrain of transnational families and expectations of support and obligation. The paper focuses on how the stresses and strains of marriage and motherhood were negotiated and what happens when “emotion culture” and “display rules” are broken. Emotions are not just a topic of research; they also impact on the research process. One way of trying to uncover the emotions underpinning these interviews is by adopting a reflexive approach to the research process. Hence, as a second aim, the paper employs a reflexive approach to chart my own personal navigation of this emotional terrain both as an interviewer but also as a migrant and mother.

Keywords: Emotion Management; Irish Nurses; Migrants; Transnational Families

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07256860802169238

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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