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Family-centred work motility in a small island society: the case of the Faroe Islands

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Coping with distance is a key feature in the making of remote societies in the North Atlantic such as the Faroe Islands. Historically, Faroese men have travelled far, working at sea and in other countries and been absent for long periods of time. Although a much smaller proportion of Faroese men today work far from home, I argue that even today women’s mobilities are heavily influenced by such long-standing gender arrangements. I will use the concept of mobility potential to explore how cultural expectations of gender and work mobility intersect with family values. Mobility potential involves looking beyond actual mobilities to explore contexts and personal circumstances that enable or motivate mobility practices. Mobility potential can be analysed through two spheres of mobility potential: societal and individual mobility potential. Societal mobility potential analyses not just geographical displacement but also history, structures (e.g. family policies and labour market regulations) as well as material and geographical infrastructures that make mobility possible. On a micro level, I analyse individual mobility potential, referred to as motility, as one approach to connect issues of family, gender and work. This article is based on group interviews with women conducted in three locations in the Faroe Islands. The analysis is structured around two main, but interlinked themes; (1) family-centred motilities and (2) mothers’ and children’s interconnected motilities.
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Keywords: Gender; mobilities; motility; remote island and rural societies; work

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History and Social Sciences, University of the Faroe Islands, T├│rshavn, Faroe Islands

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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