Coming 'Home': place, belonging and second-generation return migration from England to Ireland
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This thesis contributes to the growing academic interest in the second-generation of migrants and the connections they maintain with their parental places of origin. It focuses on the children of the Irish emigrants to England of the 1950s and the decision, by some, to ‘return’ to Ireland, as adults. The past twenty years have seen an increase in immigration to Ireland from a range of countries and included in this are the second-generation from England. Although both immigration and return to Ireland have been recently researched, this is the first time that this group have been recognised as a discrete migration flow and their experiences have been studied. The thesis aims to uncover how an emotional connection to the parental home country and a predisposition to return there is established through everyday lives in the ‘host’ country, combined with the positive experience of holiday visits. It employs a qualitative approach to access the range of influences on the migration experience with the intention of allowing a more nuanced understanding to emerge from the perspective of the migrant and to access the feelings and emotions associated with a return to a perceived ‘home’. In interpreting the everyday lives of the second-generation Irish I draw on Bourdieu’s (1977, 1990) theory of habitus and social field. This proposes that individuals develop a set of taken-for-granted behaviours (dispositions), which collectively make up a habitus and are attuned to a particular social environment (field). The research finds evidence that the second-generation Irish in England acquired a set of dispositions as a result of which an emotional connection was formed with Irish ways of being and with Ireland as a perceived place of origin. Despite this, their experience of return is not a straightforward ‘homecoming’ and their accounts illustrate some of the challenges of return for second-generation returning migrants.
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