Cultural Responses to Changing Gender Patterns of Migration in Georgia

Citation:

Hofmann, Erin Trouth and Cynthia J. Buckley. 2011. “Cultural Responses to Changing Gender Patterns of Migration in Georgia.” International Migration 50 (5): 77-94.

Authors: Erin Trouth Hofmann, Cynthia J. Buckley

Abstract:

In this paper, we explore how individual women cope with the tensions between economic forces encouraging temporary labour migration and cultural norms tying “proper” women to their homes and families. Combining in-depth interviews with returned migrant women in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi with secondary migration data for the region, we illustrate the recent increases in Georgian women’s participation in international labour migration. Deteriorating economic conditions in Georgia leave women with few local opportunities to financially support their families, while institutional changes have altered the accessibility and attractiveness of international destinations, leading to increasing motivations and opportunities for women’s migration. Focusing on the contradictions between growing female migration and persistent adherence to cultural norms stigmatizing migration in Georgia, we explore the cognitive strategies migrant women employ in an attempt to balance internalized perceptions of acceptable gendered behaviour with their migration choices. Two key pathways of adaptation emerge: framing migration as a necessity rather than a choice and stressing the unique and individually exceptional nature of their own migration experience. We posit that these strategies may serve to limit the norm-challenging nature of women’s migration in Georgia. Although migration is often described as an empowering experience for women, if women migrants work to present their migration in a way that fits within the bounds of traditional gender norms, these norms may be strengthened rather than challenged.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Economies, Gender, Women, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, Central Asia, Europe, South Caucasus Countries: Georgia

Year: 2011

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