Reconstructing future perspectives and educational aspirations among young Brazilian migrants in Germany through media
Academic supervisor: Sara Fürstenau
Migration research has been emphasizing that migrants leave their home country seeking better living conditions – either fleeing war and conflict or looking for jobs (Haas et al., 2020). More recently, concerns about climate change also became relevant reasons for migrating (Piguet & Laczko, 2014). Educational aspects appear in the literature as restricted to an “elite migration” (Brooks & Waters, 2011), rarely figuring as a driver of migration among low-income migrants. Yet recent findings start making the case for “educational migration” (Carnicer, 2019; Carnicer & Fürstenau, 2019), pointing out that migrants from low-income and low-education attainment backgrounds actively take part in the construction of transnational educational spaces (Fürstenau, 2019). This perspective adds nuance to the discourse about “work migration”. Migrants may indeed use the educational system in the country of destination to secure a residence permit and enhance chances of being hired, yet that perspective alone leaves aside migrants who seek to access education in order to fulfil personal ambitions, and those who migrate to pursue educational aspirations and to acquire formal educational certificates.
Social Networking Sites (SNS) became a relevant form of information exchange among migrants consequently affecting decision-making processes in migration contexts (Dekker et al., 2018; Hepp et al., 2011). Hence, digitally mediated communication expands the transnational aspect of migration (Gomes & Yeoh, 2018; Glick-Schiller et al., 1992). In times of “deep mediatisation” (Couldry & Hepp, 2016), digital devices and communication mediated by online software is entangled in daily life. The more so for migrants who rely on such software to plan their journey, maintain bonds and establish new ones. In that context, mediated communication has a role in the processes of gathering information, making decisions, thinking about future possibilities and educational aspirations.
More than a decade ago, Diminescu (2008) declared migrants to be “connected”. Nowadays, digital connection became so intrinsic to the process of migration that it is a central aspect of mutual support among transnational families (Madianou & Miller, 2012) and of decision-making processes (Dekker et al., 2018). Yet, media studies about migration puts educational aspects of migration in the background. Nevertheless, media and communication studies about migration have so far seldom focused on educational aspects (with honourable exceptions such as Jayadeva 2020).
In that intersection between education, migration and media studies, my research aims at answering whether and how young migrants from different socio-economic backgrounds use media to plan educational pathways and future perspectives. My research object are young Brazilians migrants in Germany and aspiring migrants in Brazil who wish to move to Germany.
My empirical aim is twofold: to explore the prevalence of educational aspirations in online exchanges among migrants, and to reconstruct the role of media use in the formation of future perspectives and in the achievement of educational aspirations abroad. As a background of these two aims, I am interested in the ways in which socioeconomic inequality shapes future perspectives and educational aspirations in a transnational migratory setting. In relation to media, it intrigues me that giant for-profit companies such as Facebook and Google have possibly reached a central role in processes of migration, educational choices, and future thinking among young migrants. Methodologically, I will quantitatively analyse posts on Facebook groups of Brazilians living in Germany and – qualitatively – conduct a “digital ethnography” (Hine, 2015), interviewing Brazilians active on those Facebook groups and observing interactions on that SNS.
In regards to the first aim, the underlying expectation is to establish whether education is a relevant topic of discussion on online forums. In regards to my second aim, namely to reconstruct the role of media use in the formation of future perspectives and in the achievement of educational aspirations abroad, I resort to qualitative interviews and observations. Once the bigger picture of the discourse about education and future perspectives in a migratory context is established based on Facebook posts, this qualitative exploration adds nuances to that discourse. By observing migrants’ activity online and conducting in-depth, biography-based interviews with them, I am able to reconstruct whether and how the mediatisation of the social world intertwines with their educational projects and future perspectives. The sampling encompasses variation of sex, skin colour, and socio-economic backgrounds, as a comparison of these markers is relevant for social inequality analysis.
This study sheds light on a group of migrants who remain understudied in Germany. Only in 2019, Germany officially became home to more than 49 thousand Brazilians – over 22.5 thousand thereof were young people between 18 and 35 years old (Statistisches Bundesamt, October 2020). The actual number is even higher due to undocumented migration and Brazilians who enter Germany with their second citizenship. Understanding how this group uses media to achieve educational aspirations and imagine their future is useful both to develop theory and to inform policymaking. Particularly migration studies can profit from broadening our knowledge about migrant’s planning and decision-making processes in connection to their media use.
- Brooks, R. and Waters, J. (2011) Student Mobilities, Migration and the Internationalization of Higher Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Carnicer, J. A. (2019). Transnational migration and educational opportunities: A case study of migration from Brazil to Germany. London Review of Education. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.18546/LRE.17.1.02
- Carnicer, J. A., & Fürstenau, S. (2019). Transnational Education. A Concept for Institutional and Individual Perspectives. Diskurs Kindheits- Und Jugendforschung / Discourse Journal of Childhood and Adolescence Research, 4(4-2019), 385–389. https://doi.org/10.3224/diskurs.v14i4.01
- Couldry, N. & Hepp, A. (2017). The mediated construction of reality. Polity
- Dekker, R., Engbersen, G., Klaver, J., & Vonk, H. (2018). Smart Refugees: How Syrian Asylum Migrants Use Social Media Information in Migration Decision-Making. Social Media + Society, 4. Doi:10.1177/2056305118764439
- Fürstenau, S. (2019). Educational aspirations of underprivileged female migrants. An ethnographic case study of a transnational network of care workers between Brazil and Germany. Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft, 22(S1), 185–202. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11618-019-00882-4
- Gomes, C. & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2018). Transnational migrations in the Asia-Pacific. Rowman & Littlefield International
- Haas, H. d., Castles, S. & Miller, M. J. (2020). The age of migration (Sixth edition.). Red Globe Press.
- Hine, C. (2015). Ethnography for the internet. Bloomsbury Acad.
- Ignatow, G., & Mihalcea, R. F. 1. (2017). Text mining. SAGE.
- Jayadeva, S. (2020). Keep calm and apply to Germany: how online communities mediate transnational student mobility from India to Germany. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(11), 2240–2257. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2019.1643230
- Madianou, M., & Miller, D. 1. (2012). Migration and new media (1. publ.). Routledge.
- Piguet, É. & Laczko, F. (2014). People on the move in a changing climate. Springer.
- Schiller, N. G., Basch, L., & Blanc-Szanton, C. (1992). Transnationalism: A new analytic framework for understanding migration. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 645, 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1992.tb33484.x
- Statistisches Bundesamt, Destatis. (October 2020). Ausländerstatistik. Available at https://www-genesis.destatis.de/genesis/, access on October 26, 2020
- Dauer: aktuell
- Projektleitung: Helena Dedecek Gertz