(IM)MOBILITY: THE CALABRIAN YOUNG PEOPLE EXPERIENCE IN THE “WAITING ROOM” DURING THE PANDEMIC COVID-19
1Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy; 2Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
Mobility has become an “evocative keyword” of modernity implying “a world of movement on a global scale”. With the spread of pandemic on global level, a reshaping of mobility is taking place both in relation to the issue of immobility and the emergence of new regulatory regimes. Young people are set up in a context of (im)mobility, configuring suspended or interrupted transitions. This process implies the need to revise the mobility paradigm centered on the dichotomous idea that distinguishes mobility from immobility, producing a positive idea of the individual that is antithetical to that rooted in a place. In the present work the condition of immobility has been interpreted through Bourdieu's theoretical frame using the concepts of field and habitus. A new field called “waiting room” is configured in which the terms of the relationship between mobility and immobility are redefined and are no longer mutually exclusive but in a continuous osmotic relationship with each other. The theoretical proposal has been verified through an empirical research carried out in 2020. The findings are based on the analysis of 40 in-depth narrative interviews with Calabrian young people, aged between 18-35 years, who have been come back to their village/town during the pandemic emergence.
DISENTANGLING THE NEXUS AMONG IMAGINED FUTURES, FORCED IMMOBILITY AND PLANS ‘B’ IN COVID PANDEMIC. NARRATIVES FROM ITALIAN STUDENTS
1University of Milan Bicocca, Italy; 2University of Milan Bicocca, Italy
Within the debate on contemporary youth transitions there is an increasing focus on geographical mobility. Geographical mobility is interpreted as a possible turning point and a critical moment that can significantly mark the transition to adulthood so much so that it is proposed as a possible new metaphor for youth transition (Cuzzocrea 2020). One of the most fruitful strands of the study of youth mobility is that of educational projects at different levels (bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and specialisations) which require leaving the family roof. Behind this kind of analysis there is often a Bourdieusian approach that considers mobility as a practice which stems from embodied cultural capital. Of particular interest is the analysis of the link between geographical mobility - understood as embedded practice - and planning in a scenario of uncertainty – aggravated by the pandemic.
In our paper, we will present the results of the first and second waves of a five-year qualitative longitudinal study on youth and transition to adulthood in Italy, based on 6 dialogical workshops (DW) (Cahill and Cook, 2019) with 78 undergraduate students both women and men aged 22-24 at the time of the first DW, of both hard and soft sciences from three large universities in Milan, Rome and Naples. Among the themes we tackled – intergenerational relations (including family relations), future plans, uncertainty, educational and professional projects and experiences - we will focus here on geographical mobility, career paths and aspirations, and their role in the transition to adulthood.
The preliminary analysis of these two waves - crossed by the outbreak of the pandemic - shows two main results: 1) the condition of immobility imposed by the pandemic, if on the one hand it has required a review of future projects including mobility, on the other hand it does not limit planning. In fact, the young people involved continue to draw up projects which envisage mobility both interregionally and abroad however with meaningful differences according to the disciplinary macro-area and the cultural environment where they study and/or where they grew up. 2) The condition of immobility is linked to the lack of a clear space where experiencing daily recognition, that of the university. If the pandemic has not interrupted their plans in terms of examinations and degrees, it has, however, deprived them of the space for daily interactions and practices with colleagues, friends and professors. The general background to these elements is that of a change in the perception of the pandemic: their initial feeling of a loosening of expectations and social pressures (especially from parents) and of a suspended time in which to 'breathe a sigh of relief' now gives way once again to the imperative of acceleration in terms of the transition from university to work.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ NARRATIVE IMAGINARIES: ITALY, FINLAND AND THE COSMOPOLITAN ELSEWHERE
International Studies Institute
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 2020-2021 will probably represent a watershed time in youth educational mobility. Although the individual, collective and institutional meanings of studying abroad seem obvious, in the post-pandemic era the academic mobility axiom needs to be questioned. Within the academic domain, beyond quantitative socio-demographic data, there is little qualitative empirical material for a deeper understanding of students’ overall experience from an authentically narrative-biographical and comparative slant. In most studies the international student is conceived and represented as a mere agent: we know little or nothing of his/her biographical past. To find out what young adults really get out of academic mobility we need to hear their stories and explore the implications of educational travel in the broader context of their past, present and future lives.
Through analysis of 50 autoethnographies I interpret international master students’ imaginaries of Florence-Italy, Helsinki-Finland and what can be called “the cosmopolitan elsewhere”. Young adults’ narratives were prompted by in-depth interviews exploring the kind of images they had of the host city/country—along with the media source of such representations (books, movies, etc.)—before their arrival abroad.
Sources for Helsinki-Finland images are mainly social media and university textbooks. For Florence-Italy, besides textbooks (especially art history), they are mainly movies. The respective autoethnographic passages can be synthetically interpreted as past (Italy) vs. present (Finland). On one side Florence-Italy’s image is almost embedded in a cultural past, on the other Helsinki-Finland’s image is almost severed from its history and is seen more as a geographical entity: the deep north. While Finland is “north”, “cold” and “nature”, Italy is “south”, “warmth” and “culture”. Italy represents a culture of the past while Finland is recognized as a culture of the present and a sort of enlightened and progressive land for the future.
Further, analysis of the collected autoethnographies—and of secondary scholarly and non-scholarly sources connected with studying abroad—reveals the absence of a clear-cut narrative of what it means to be an international student. We can find a series of related images, but not sufficient to constitute a leading narrative for students’ life experiences in North Europe, South Europe, Europe in general or elsewhere.
There is, however, a glimpse of a vague cosmopolitan narrative. This story, constructed on a global scale by different actors and institutions, is partially disconnected from the society and culture of the countries of destination or provenance. It upholds the generic validity of studying abroad for both instrumental and expressive reasons, and sees it as an institutionalized rite of passage towards adulthood and global citizenship. Nevertheless, it is an undefined story without models, so it is up to the individual student to find heroes and villains along the way to construct his or her idea of who is a good citizen of the world. And it also remains unclear what the prize is, or the lesson from the special “studying abroad world” and what use it will be to the young person in his/her adult life.
LEAVING THE COMFORT ZONE BEHIND, YET? NARRATIVES OF THE MOBILE ‘PERSONA' DURING THE PANDEMIC
Università di Cagliari, Italy
In a socio-political context where educational institutions struggle to respond to individual needs, the relation between youth, learning and Europe is called upon to solve a variety of issues (Du Bois Reymond 2004). This presentation centres on discussing how a European mobility discourse may impact on the construction of the self and the narratives of the future produced by mobile young people departing from Italy.
Indeed, empirical material recently collected within the project ‘Mapping youth futures’ (funded by Italian ministry of research) opens up interesting insights on the discursive construction of a mobile ‘persona’. We have interviewed young people who were caught by the pandemic after having recently returned from a structured programme of mobility. Some narratives emerged in this material show to adhere to the mobile rhetoric that has permeated European supranational policies in the last decades, and which has been important at least before the covid 19 pandemic (Cairns et al 2017), and then with ambivalent traits during the course of this. The embodiment of this discourse, which comes with its own terminology based on such expressions as ‘the necessity to leave the comfort zone behind’, ‘the importance of discovering oneself’ or ‘making experiences’, goes along the direction of an increasingly professionalisation of the youth sector. This latter reflects but also feeds, in turn, ‘the mobility dream’.
The constructions of the self we have depicted in this project at times interrelates and at (other) times ignores the difficulties in putting mobility into practice, thereby attributing an untouchable status to the discourse of mobility. On the other hand, a possibility of ‘turn to immobility’ does not seem too straightforward, nor direct, in these narratives. Therefore, in this presentation we investigate the characteristics that this discourse takes and how ambivalences and tensions are contained in it.
References Cairns, D., Cuzzocrea, V., Briggs, D., & Veloso, L. (2017). The consequences of mobility. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Du Bois Reymond, M. 2004. Youth-learning-Europe. Ménage à Trois? Young. 12(3):187-204.
MOBILITY OR TEMPORARY MIGRATION: CULTURAL EMBEDDEDNESS FOR HIGHLY SKILLED ITALIANS ABROAD
University of Pisa, Italy
Does spatial mobility imply non-integration or non-acculturation? We attempt to answer to this question as a result of our thematic analysis of 47 semi-structured and in-depth online interviews with highly skilled Italians abroad. The interviews have been analysed via Atlas.ti and main theoretical categories were prepared before doing a literature review. We have combined the results regarding three categories: what they say about the countries, how they interpret the host cultures and how they describe their acculturation or conscious non-integration.
We have observed that cultural communication, work culture and cultural agency are heavily present in the interviews. For most of the interviewees, it is impossible to escape from the Italian diaspora and if they do, they prefer more to be closer to international circles not to be a stereotypical Italian abroad. In their words, we observe that the spatial mobilities provide them with personal development, career growth whilst adding important lines to the curriculum. Moreover, they enjoy the challenges of their jobs abroad and work hard in many cases making many sacrifices from their social lives. However, sometimes the time management is at the cost of learning more about the local culture. By the time that they finish their contracts, if they cannot renew it they will move as a part of a postdoc or as a part of new career development. For those who work in the private sector, it is observed that they might be ready to move if they find a better job, in another country.
The epistemic communities and the international bubbles that are networking and moving in different directions show that spatial mobility is not only a mobility imperative but a part of their flexi-lives (Cuzzocrea 2019). And yet, the cultural question and acculturation in general apart from the work culture do not come to the fore till there are some turning points and transitions. These turning points can be the birth of children or on the transition periods where the PhD is realised in a completely different cultural environment. In both cases, with the second mobility, a country that is closer to Italy but not Italy can be preferred for professional reasons and geographical proximity. Furthermore, the decisions taken as couples and as singles are highly influenced by the networks and acquaintances made. The most important of this common theme is that we find a partial integration, and yet, it would be better to describe it as differentiated embedding (Ryan 2019; Ryan and Mulholland 2015) in diverse cultural settings. With our contribution, we add mostly to the dimension of temporariness via examining the relationship between culture and temporary migration. Finally, we picture the situation of the highly skilled Italians abroad as a result of our reading of the analysis based on cultural gravity, differentiated embedding and decision(s) to move based on life transitions and turning points.