The Art of Living in Transitoriness: Strategies of Families in Repeated Geographical Mobility

Author(s) : Déborah Levitan

Source :


« In the context of migratory instabilities, an increasing number of professionals engage in repeated moves across countries with their families, living more or less permanently on the move. Yet the international adjustments of these families are usually studied in terms of the adaptation of family members to a single host country. This article uses in-depth interviews conducted with families in repeated geographical mobility and currently living in Switzerland to identify the strategies enabling them to move across countries while adjusting to diverse sociocultural environments. By bringing together studies on psychology with those on migration and mobility, the article introduces the specific challenge of repeated geographical mobility and sets out a theoretical framework for understanding this phenomenon from a sociocultural perspective. It then presents three types of strategies employed by families. The findings show that against the backdrop of constant changes, families recreate the same spheres of experience everywhere, transform their relations to objects, and build a continuum of social relationships by enlarging their social networks while focusing inward on the relationships within the nuclear family. The analyses bring to the fore a new modality of establishing a sense of continuity that involves a complete reconfiguration of investments so to embrace more complex ways to cope with the apparent concurrent requirement of adjusting to a new country while preserving some degree of mobility in view of the next move. The research sheds light on very contemporary dynamics embedded in the broader unfolding context of mobility by taking into account its experiential dimension. »
Keywords: Migration, Mobility, Sociocultural psychology, Family, Transitions, Spheres of experience « 


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