Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Family Narratives on Unfulfilled Migration Intentions: Insights from the Post-Communist Context

Sat1  Apr04:16pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Stephenson Room
Dr Zuzanna Brunarska


Zuzanna Brunarska1
1 Centre of Migration Research, University of Warsaw, Poland


The paper sheds light on the role of family stories and narratives in processing the experience of unrealised emigration that occurred within the narrow opportunity structure for international mobility under communism. Based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with people whose family members intended to emigrate from the Polish People’s Republic and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic but have not realised their plans, it explores the variety of family narratives on unfulfilled migration intentions and factors influencing them. The analysis revealed that the presence and character of narratives tend to reflect the coping strategies for handling the experience of unrealised emigration adopted by the would-be migrants and, apart from personality traits, tend to depend on personal and social experiences following the unrealised emigration experience. They also tend to be affected by the presence of non-migrant’s agency in driving the immobility outcome. The subjectively perceived influence of the experience over migration-related attitudes and norms among the non-migrants’ descendants seems to be present when non-migrants exercised (at least some) agency in driving the negatively valenced immobility outcome. In this case, their family narratives were accompanied by the counterfactual feeling of regret.