Shift in social order – shift in gender roles? Migration experience and gender roles
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Submission date: 2015-05-06
Final revision date: 2015-07-04
Acceptance date: 2015-07-12
Online publication date: 2015-07-28
Publication date: 2015-09-01
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2015;3(3):185–191
Does gender matter in the context of immigration? What significance does it gain through time? Does transition from one gender role to another result in redistribution of family roles? These are the main questions which this paper addresses through scientific discourse and empiric research. In particular the paper deals with the question whether the transition from one gender role to another in the course of immigration triggers the liberalization of gender roles in the families of East-European immigrants (from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia) in Germany. This is investigated through semi-structured biographical interviews with female immigrants to Germany conducted by the author in 2012-2014. The findings illustrate a specific shift of gender roles in the context of migration. On the one hand, willingly or through circumstances, immigrant women are more likely to be involved in the decision-making process, to adapt to a breadwinner role, and to undertake the communication functions with official institutions (often due to better language proficiency). On the other hand, men are more likely to be more engaged in the caregiver roles for offspring, to maintain native language in communication with children (from mother tongue to ‘father tongue’), and to fulfill housekeeping duties. These patterns are rather untypical for post-soviet gender roles, with their increasing tendency to the renaissance of traditional gender roles.

The question of whether a shift in gender roles related to migration from one country to another leads towards the greater liberalization of gender roles still remains debatable. But migration experience reinforces the transformation of gender roles which initially are not only distinct but also unequal. Thus, migration can accelerate restructuring of the gender relationship. In turn, a new social order imposes – on immigrants – a demand for greater flexibility of gender roles in the family and for diversity in household strategies.