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Mobilities and waiting: experiences of middle-aged Latvian women who emigrated and those who stayed put

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journal contribution
posted on 30.10.2018, 12:11 authored by Aija LulleAija Lulle
By revisiting de Beauvoir’s feminist arguments on ageing I interrogate work-related (im)mobilities of women in two contexts: migrating in middle-age or pre-retirement, and ageing ‘in place’. The data derive from in-depth interviews with currently middle-aged Latvian labour migrants in Europe and non-migrants in Latvia. Ten life stories of migrant women are matched with ten life stories of women who never migrated, but have had similar work-life transitions and care responsibilities. Work-related mobilities are conceptualised along three interrelated dimensions: first, risk-taking in relation to career and income-generating work abroad; second, ‘waiting’ and enduring versus enjoying employment towards retirement; and third, post-retirement for both groups of women and post-return experiences of return migrants. I demonstrate how these mobilities are similar, but also diverge in migrant and non-migrant narratives due to the capability of these women to control their own mobility. I argue that power relations arising from gender and ageing are important for a more nuanced understanding of how hopeful meanings attached to social and geographical mobilities shape a person’s sense of self during ageing.


The author is grateful to EEA and Norway grants and Department of Geography, University of Latvia for funding a research visit to the The Arctic University of Norway, Tromso in June 2016 and to the Academy of Finland for funding the TRANSLINES project (Inequalities of Mobility: Relatedness and Belonging of Transnational Families in the Nordic Migration Space 2015–2019).



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Gender, Place & Culture


1 - 16


LULLE, A., 2018. Mobilities and waiting: experiences of middle-aged Latvian women who emigrated and those who stayed put. Gender, Place & Culture, 25 (8), pp.1193-1208.


Taylor & Francis Group (© Informa UK, Ltd)


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Gender, Place & Culture on 4 March 2018, available online: