Ambivalence and Inclusion: Italian Middle Class Migrants in Norway.
This paper argues that welfare state policies influence transnational migrants’ care preferences. The intention is to contribute to our understanding of how migrant mothers in gender egalitarian societies “do” their care practices according to expected normative ideas in sender and receiving countries.
Due to the economic crisis that hit Europe in 2008, young people and women experience increasing discrepancies between the social realities structured by the economy and the vision of a better future. As a response, they look for better opportunities abroad. In Norway, the number of Italian migrants are increasing.
This study explores how Italian migrants, situated within an expansive welfare state, embrace and confront gender egalitarian family norms and values. In Norway, gender egalitarian values are diffused generally across all social strata. Public services aimed at supporting the involvement of working mothers and fathers in childcare are socially recognized and popular. Italian migrants in Norway are materially and culturally situated within this context. How migrants from Mediterranean familialistic societies experience gender egalitarian norms, welfare state services, and local care arrangements, is discussed in this paper. I argue that migration changes normative preferences for care and leads to a re-thinking of the meanings attached to family values and care practices in the sending and receiving countries. Having their family histories in contexts dominated by familialism and traditional gender ideologies, being professional middle class mothers in a Nordic gender egalitarian society can be an ambiguous as well as an inclusive social and emotional experience.