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Title: Leaving Spain : a biographical study on the experiences of an economic crisis, migration and new beginnings
Author: Riemann, Me-Linh
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 7394
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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Since the beginning of the economic crisis of 2008, Spain has witnessed a mass departure of (especially young) people looking for opportunities abroad. Although there have been notable social-scientific efforts to study the 'new' migration wave from Spain, the topic still remains relatively understudied. This PhD project is a response to this gap in research. In contrast to some other studies, which focused on specific aspects of the experiences of 'new' Spanish migrants, I opted for a holistic approach by taking their whole life history into account: the structural processes of their life histories (e.g., biographical projects and trajectories of suffering) and their autobiographical theorising. The data basis of this research project consists of 58 autobiographical narrative interviews (and four follow-up interviews) with informants who were either currently based in the UK or Germany or had returned to Spain at the time of the interview. I interpreted the interviews by using a specific type of narrative analysis (Schütze 2008) influenced by sociolinguistics and Grounded Theory. The analysis proceeded by way of detailed biographical case studies and contrastive comparisons (see Glaser and Strauss 1967) for the sake of generating theoretical insights. A note on the structure of the presentation of my findings: Firstly, I present an in-depth biographical case study of an informant who I named Adam Sanchez. This case study served as the basis for developing first theoretical insights and generative research questions, which I addressed in five comparative chapters where I drew on the whole data material to further reassess and differentiate my findings. These chapters deal with (a) the biographical conditions and processes in which the decisions to migrate evolved, (b) the experiences and biographical meaning of studying and working abroad, (c) the web of social relationships in the host society and at home, (d) the impact of an unexpected collective crisis – Brexit – on everyday life and its biographical meaning, and (e) the experiences of returning to Spain. I conclude with some reflections on the potential of biographical research in studying contemporary Europe and its overlapping collective crises (mass unemployment in Southern Europe, Brexit etc.). The study is a contribution to biographical analysis, migration research and European studies.
Supervisor: Bagnoli, Anna Sponsor: Cambridge European Trust ; St. Edmund's College ; Stiftung der deutschen Wirtschaft
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Biographical research ; Migration ; Economic Crisis ; Spain