Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Family, Boundaries and Transformation. The International Mobility of Professionals and Their Families

Cangia, Flavia ; Levitan, Déborah ; Zittoun, Tania

In: Migration Letters, 2018, vol. 15, no. 1, p. 17-31

Two dominant images of migrant professionals, also known as “expats”, have long been common, in the social sciences: on the one hand, they were described as super-mobile individuals, who easily move between places with no time frame in mind, with the openness to engage with diversity; on the other hand, more recent studies challenged the idea of “expat” cosmopolitanism, and investigated... More

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    Summary
    Two dominant images of migrant professionals, also known as “expats”, have long been common, in the social sciences: on the one hand, they were described as super-mobile individuals, who easily move between places with no time frame in mind, with the openness to engage with diversity; on the other hand, more recent studies challenged the idea of “expat” cosmopolitanism, and investigated the boundaries constituted by these people in the course of their everyday life. The present paper brings to the fore the complexity of these individuals’ and their families’ experiences of international mobility from a combined socio-cultural psychological and sociological perspective. We draw on qualitative research conducted in Switzerland in order to reflect on the role of family in the way these people make sense of diversity across time and space, make and un-make symbolic boundaries between themselves and others, and understand their own and their familiars' transformation.