Transnational Spaces of Care – Migrant Families of the Elderly Poles

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Agnieszka RADZIWINOWICZÓWNA, University of Warsaw, Poland
Weronika KLOC-NOWAK, University of Warsaw, Poland
Anna KORDASIEWICZ, University of Warsaw, Poland
Intensifying spatial mobility poses a challenge to the family as the primary provider of care for the elderly in sickness and frailty. In EU-10 nations, where family model of care predominates, care deficit is likely due to the intensive out-migration since 2004. Hence, this paper directly inscribes into the topic of the Forum by attempting to understand the future and inquire about the prospective forms of care over the elderly in transnational families (TNF). We assume that physical proximity is not sine qua non condition of caring (Baldassar 2007:257–258). Drawing upon multi-sited transnational ethnographic research in Poland and the UK, we inquire into the forms of care the TNFs develop. We employ Kilkey and Merla’s (2013) typology (direct provision with physical co-presence, direct provision at a distance, coordination of support, and delegation of support) in order to trace configurations of care in TNFs of ageing Poles. We argue that: (1) parents of the Polish migrants, still considerably young, often do not yet call for personal assistance and they are often net contributors of care rather than only receivers; (2) ageing parents facilitate reproduction of their migrant children; however, (3) additional caring responsibilities of the ageing parents need to be taken into account in order to explain transnational forms of care (e.g., over their own 85+ parents), which calls for re-thinking of the concept of “sandwich generation”, (4) similar forms of care are developed in the TNFs and families of internal migrants (should the distance impede visits on the daily basis). However, instances of illnesses of ageing parents of migrants or emergencies already show how direct provision of care is organized today. As we argue, informal non-kin social networks are important actors in provision of care and should be taken into account in research on configurations of care in transnational spaces.