"Between belonging": habitus and the migration experience

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Date: Spring 2002
From: The Canadian Geographer(Vol. 46, Issue 1)
Publisher: Canadian Association of Geographers
Document Type: Article
Length: 14,775 words

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Abstract :

This paper explores the impacts of migration both on the small island community of Grand Manan, New Brunswick, and on the group of Newfoundland families who have moved there from their homes 1500 km away. Based upon personal interviews with individuals and families, impacts and meanings are examined in terms of social networks, community cleavages, and intergenerational differences. The complexity of patterns and the ambiguities experienced by both groups are related to Bourdieu's concept of `habitus', and its relevance for changing meanings of `place' and `community'.In exploring the changing patterns of social relationships and meanings of community, this paper highlights issues of social cohesion and tensions associated with forging new identities, and examines the particular impacts upon youth whose sense of belonging is explicitly between homes. The experience of migration for those who decide to stay permanently is shown to be different than for the majority who come as seasonal migrants. In the decision to stay through the winter or not, crucial factors are both the sense of belonging back in Newfoundland and whether or not families have children, whose abilities to forge new relationships are the everyday concerns for parents. While the importance of jobs provides the main incentive to migrate, the difficulties associated with integrating into new social groups, negotiating new identities, and adjusting to different educational requirements pose almost insurmountable challenges for many families. It is in the details of family lives, values and perceptions, told through their narratives of experience, that we begin to discern the ambiguities and fluidity of evolving habitus for both groups. Key words: Newfoundland, migration, Atlantic Provinces, community, habitus

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A90388080