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Towards transnational gender identity. A case study of Polish children growing up in Norway

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This article focuses on migration experiences of Polish children living in one of the most gender-equal countries in the world – in Norway. Empirically, the article is based on 30 semi-structured interviews with children aged 6–13 who were born in Poland and migrated with their parents to Norway after Poland’s accession to the European Union. Observation of their rooms during the interview also contributed to the study. We discuss ways in which gender roles, practices and identities are shaped by mobility in the Polish-Norwegian context and how ideas about girls/women and boys/men are affected by the migration experience. The article seeks to explore children’s experiences in the two highly contrasting and differentiated contexts: one where the children were socialized and the other where they then moved, the former being highly traditional in terms of gender, the latter emphasizing gender equality. We argue that the Polish home is the most important site for the formation of the traditional gender identity, while the Norwegian school and peer group are the most important sites for the formation of the modern gender identity. This situation causes tension and ambivalence with regard to children’s gender identities across a number of different spaces and spheres of their lives.
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Keywords: Children; Norway; Poland; gender identity; migration; research with children

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Population Studies, Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

Publication date: January 2, 2018

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