The biographical meaning of migration processes from the 'East' to the 'West' of Europe

  • Breckner, Roswitha (PI - Project head)

    Project Details


    The aim of this theoretical and empirical project is to explore the interrelation between migration experiences and biographical processes: How migration experiences become influential in life histories and stories and, vice versa, how the biographical context shapes the meaning(s) of migration. The experience of crossing a border between two polarised societal systems during the Cold War became the focus of investigation.

    The research is based on the life stories of migrants mainly from Romania with different national or ethnic backgrounds (Rumanian, Hungarian, Russian, Danube-German, Armenian, Jewish and others) who moved to the ‘West’, especially to the Federal Republic of Germany, between 1969 and 1989. As contrasting cases migrants who moved from Hungary, Poland, Russia and Romania to the German Demo-cratic Republic were included in the sample. The data basis consists of 20 narrative biographical interviews, which were conducted mainly between 1993 and 1994.

    The analysis followed methods of hermeneutic case reconstruction and has a conceptual description of the interrelation between migration experiences and biographical constructs as result. Empirically it could be observed, how the typicality of experiencing the East-West migration was mainly constituted by the historical context of the two World Wars and the following Division of Europe, as well as by the restructuring relations between the contexts of departure and residence after 1989, in which the positions and experiences of being a ‘stranger’ were re-shaped.

    Effective start/end date1/03/9331/12/01

    Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (OEFOS)

    • 504027 Special sociology