Unsettled settlement? Translocal social anchoring and patterns of (im)mobility among Polish families in rural Norway

Stachowski, Jakub; Bock, Bettina


Whilst the transnational family life of post-accession intra-European migrants has been extensively explored, past studies have rarely addressed its local dimension. The relatively recent international migration patterns to rural areas in Europe provide opportunities to explore this particular aspect. Drawing on ethnographic data from Polish migrant families and young couples in rural Norway, we investigate the relationship between the settlement of the migrants in a specific rural locality and the dynamic of their cross-border and cross-local patterns of mobility. Using notions of translocalism and social anchoring, the article offers insights into how migrants' lives as couples and families become gradually reoriented as they settle in the rural host context and how the conditions for maintaining family relationships in Poland change at the same time. We illustrate how migrants' search for stability in their lives in the host location is associated with the question of family reunion, their position on the local labour market, purchase of houses and development of place attachment. At the same time, the settlement process breeds ambivalence as it requires migrants to adjust to the new life setting and continually navigate and negotiate the family life across home and host context. The ability of migrants to organise their translocal life satisfactorily depends on and reflects their overall level of integration locally and nationally.