Biographical constructions of generationality and inter-generationality in processes of au-pair migration
Caterina Rohde takes a generational perspective in her biographical study of female Russian au-pair immigrants in Germany. The ideal of living a »better life«, transmitted to many of the young women interviewed by their parents, marks perfectly the dynamic interplay of social and familial generations. Having experienced the hardships of Russia’s transition, the parents often support their children in life plans which appear to offer an opportunity for the children to improve their lives, such as working abroad as an au-pair. Generational change to a different - assumedly better - life becomes the inter-generational project of parents and children, even if it involves the spatial separation of the family. Nevertheless, the parents’ generation normally has not experienced migration itself and their interpretative authority regarding the opportunities of migration may be challenged when maturing children experience the realities of migration themselves and form their own orientations and desires. The actual migration process and its biographical consequences is experienced by the younger generation alone. The generational approach towards analysing biographical data appears to be fruitful for the explanation of the ways in which biographical interpretations of life and life planning are rooted in collective experiences within a specific socio-historic context. However, this approach does not fully grasp the individual layering of experiences which may be framed not only by generational belonging, but by other categories of social differentiation such as class, gender, ethnicity, etc. Cases which do not seem to share the characteristic attributes of their generation might be better understood using the micro-level analysis of the biographical approach.