'I can do many big things': The imagined futures and future-making activities of transnational migrants'

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This study aims to advance our understanding of how imagined futures are activated and made real by looking at the aspirations and future-making activities of a group of transnational migrants. It builds on the sociology of imagined futures, notably pragmatism, which assumes that actors’ anticipation of the future changes with new experience and that imagined futures are a critical component of human reflexivity and agency. Migration is not only about geographical mobility but also about how people experience transitional and transformational passages through space and time. The study examines how migrants’ imagined futures are triggered by biographical transitions, exposure to diverse socio-cultural environments and encountering new significant others/peer groups in the host country context. The empirical evidence is based on individual interviews with 22 highly educated migrants who had returned to their home communities in Ethiopia, following a period of professional development and working in developed countries. The developed-developing country migratory context reveals the relational forces and disjunction that stimulate cognitive reorientation and creative imagination of alternative future possibilities. The analysis shows how the returnees’ imagined futures are made real through acts of intervention in the workplace and material connection to the locality. It sheds light on ‘projective agency’ and the process through which aspired futures are brought into the present through future-making activities both at the individual and collective levels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication39th EGOS Colloquium 2023
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventEuropean Group for Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 2023 - Cagliari University, Sardinia, Italy
Duration: 5 Jul 20238 Jul 2023
Conference number: 39


ConferenceEuropean Group for Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 2023

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