Young women on the move: gender, migration patterns and the construction of rural space in Newfoundland, Canada

Walsh, Deatra (2009) Young women on the move: gender, migration patterns and the construction of rural space in Newfoundland, Canada. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The call for a more inclusive approach to rural migration has been made in the recent literature on migration. This dissertation is a response to that literature and an attempt to establish an alternative migration meta-narrative for rural areas. Despite the recognition that migration decision-making involves both economic and non-economic considerations, migration theories continue to be framed in economic terms. This is particularly true for rural communities where large scale restructuring has occurred. Through an economic lens, the discourse on outmigration from rural areas suggests failure and rural decline. -- My dissertation combines a 15-year longitudinal statistical analysis of Canadian youth born between 1970 and 1974 with the findings of 45 interviews with young women aged 25 to 34 living in or from a rural area in central Newfoundland, Canada. My research probes migration trajectories, biographies and narratives through an individual, rather than community or economic, point of entry. The statistical analysis reveals that migration patterns for rural men and women are fairly similar. Bivariate trajectory analyses suggest, however, that the circumstances surrounding these patterns, and their outcomes, vary according to gender. -- Applying a structure-agency framework to the qualitative data and focusing on both social and economic relations, my work demonstrates the importance of women's stories and their agency in the decision to stay, leave, return or move into the study area. Of the 37 women interviewed in the rural study site, 27 returned to the area for reasons associated with social, cultural, spatial and economic relations. Relations were also at the core of migration decision-making among the women who left, stayed or moved into the area. They were, however, qualitatively different. These differences are discussed. -- The individual point of entry used in the research, and throughout the qualitative work in particular, highlights important aspects of migration decision-making and migration narratives that are not always visible in the dominant discourses on rural migration framed by the interplay of statistics, bureaucracy and the media. An individual-centered approach contributes to an alternative migration meta-narrative for rural areas. In the case of rural Newfoundland, it also highlights the continued production and reproduction of gendered rural spaces that have been historically prevalent. This reflects the structural contexts within which women's migration agency occurs and helps explain the gender differences revealed through the statistical trajectory analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9378
Item ID: 9378
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 193-210)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: 2009
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Migration, Internal--Sex differences--Newfoundland and Labrador; Rural women--Newfoundland and Labrador

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