Feelings of Ambivalence: Ageing Labour Migrants in Vienna

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Monika PALMBERGER , Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity, Inst Study Religious & Ethnic Diversity, Goettingen, Germany
Feelings of Ambivalence: Ageing Labour Migrants in Vienna

This paper analyzes feelings of ambivalence first generation migrants in Vienna are confronted with, particularly in relation to their sense of belonging and place in society. It focuses on the two biggest migrant groups in Vienna, who came as labour migrants from Turkey and former Yugoslavia. Most of them immigrated to Austria as young adults and – despite of the original plan to remain only for a short period of time – they stayed and grew old there. These labour migrants have now reached retirement, a phase of life that is characterized by reflecting on the personal migration history as well as by thinking about plans for late life.

Vienna’s labour migrants have long held the dream of returning to their country of origin, at the latest when they would retire. By the time of retirement, however, feelings of estrangement from the home country prevail and many labour migrants realize that the old home is only preserved in their memories. On the other hand, they do not fully feel at home in Vienna either, even when their children and grandchildren live there. This is complicated by the status loss many experience with retirement. Once welcome as important work force, in the post-retirement phase labour migrants face marginalisation and a lack of state responsibility for ensuring their well-being in old age (e.g. inadequate state pensions and lack of culturally sensitive care). The paper analyzes these feelings of ambivalence among ageing migrants in Vienna and the strategies they assume in dealing with them. Finally, the potential of the notion of ambivalence for the experiences of migrants beyond the particular case study is discussed.