“I Would Not Have Done It on My Own.” Peer Experiences in Cross-Border Group Mobilities

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Tabea SCHLIMBACH, German Youth Institute, Germany
Karen HEMMING, German Youth Institute (DJI), Germany
Cross-border mobilities taking place in the context of German vocational educational training (VET) are largely dominated by group mobilities which represent a unique peer setting: They imply a transfer of existing peer groups from one context (VET) to a new setting and make mobility a shared experience.

This work examines the implication of this specific setting on old and new peer relations, on individual development and on the mobility experience itself. Starting from an action-theoretical approach that looks at how young people engage with the structures and actors they face in their biographical maneuvering (Pohl et al. 2011; Coffey/Farrugia 2013), we examine their individual perceptions of, and responses to group mobilities as structural element within mobility programmes, and to peers that shape their mobility experience. The empirical basis for this contribution is provided by the HORIZON 2020-funded research project MOVE that looks at youth mobility in Europe via a multi-methods approach. Data has been analysed from qualitative, problem-centered interviews with mobile German apprentices (the subsample comprising 16 interviews) and will be critically discussed against the backdrop of a wider picture (altogether 206 interviews in six mobility fields and six countries).

Empirical evidence reveals intensive peer experiences due to the extreme spatial and timely closeness with accompanying peers. While the group element is reflected as decisive inducing moment for VET mobilities and contributes to positive experiences abroad (e.g. through prevention of homesickness, reduction of anxiety), it lowers agentic behavior and has a hindering effect on maturing due to the shared coping and the delegation of developmental tasks (Havighurst 1972, Fend 1998). Moreover, the interviews suggest displacement effects on the development of peer relations to youth in the host country. This ambivalent fostering as well as hindering character of group mobilities becomes even more visible in comparison across countries and mobility fields.