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Mobilities and waiting: experiences of middle-aged Latvian women who emigrated and those who stayed put

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By revisiting De Beauvoir’s feminist arguments on ageing I interrogate work-related (im)mobilities of women in two contexts: migrating in middle-age or pre-retirement, and ageing ‘in place’. The data derive from in-depth interviews with currently middle-aged Latvian labour migrants in Europe and non-migrants in Latvia. Ten life stories of migrant women are matched with ten life stories of women who never migrated, but have had similar work-life transitions and care responsibilities. Work-related mobilities are conceptualised along three interrelated dimensions: first, risk-taking in relation to career and income-generating work abroad; second, ‘waiting’ and enduring vs. enjoying employment towards retirement; and third, post-retirement for both groups of women and post-return experiences of return migrants. I demonstrate how these mobilities are similar, but also diverge in migrant and non-migrant narratives due to the capability of these women to control their own mobility. I argue that power relations arising from gender and ageing are important for a more nuanced understanding of how hopeful meanings attached to social and geographical mobilities shape a person’s sense of self during ageing.
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Keywords: (im)mobilities; Ageing; Europe; Latvia; middle-aged women; waiting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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