I am currently conducting research for my master thesis in social and cultural anthropology at the University of Vienna on the local expatriate community, and I look for participants, who will share their experience and opinions about their life in the Austrian capital.
While incorporation of less privileged groups of migrants (e.g. refugees and low-wage labor migrants) has been extensively studied and politically debated, the character of incorporation among expatriates into local societies has received very limited attention. With this study I seek to fill to the current gap in the existing literature, by examining how incorporation is possible when a stay is of temporary character, and which potential barriers expats in an Austrian context face in this process.
I look for persons with a European or North American background, who hold a university degree, and who would participate in an interview (app. 30 min). Please send me an email if interested or if you have any further questions.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
— Dorte Pedersen
Phone: +43 680 1424 985
Austria has like other European countries in recent years seen a rise in the public and political animosity against foreigners settling in the country. They are seen as a threat to the cultural hegemony and heritage; Vienna is no exception on this matter despite its richness in cultural diversity compared to the rest of the country. One group of foreigners, which seem to escape the negative spotlight, is the highly skilled migrants, such as the corporate manager, the researcher, or the journalist, who despite the lack of German skills or knowledge of the local „rules of the game“ avoid the negative scrutiny other foreigners are subject to. Their skills and talents presumably situate them in a privileged position, where social rules and expectations do not apply. Or do they? These thoughts form the starting point for this research, where I am intrigued to understand the peculiar situation of highly skilled migrants in Vienna better.
The majority of literature on migration processes among the highly skilled focuses on the phenomenon of “brain drain”; professionals moving from developing to developed countries, but attention also has been paid to “brain exchanges” between countries, especially developed ones. For my master thesis I am interested in the latter group of highly skilled migrants, the ones who cross national borders, often temporarily, in the developed world. More specifically the ones who settle in Vienna for a given period of time. I am intrigued to explore their pathways of incorporation into the local society. How is incorporation possible when a stay is of temporary character, and what are the potential barriers individuals face in this process?
Why is such a study important? Understanding the complexities of migrant incorporation in host societies has been studied thouroughly, but on a very limited scale on the view point of highly skilled. In fact highly skilled mobility remains largely understudied in social science compared to what one may refer to as „ethnic“ or „low-wage“ labor migration. The majority of literature assume highly skilled migration is effortless and frictionless; that highly skilled embody a privileged global elite, who can choose how they want to incorporate in host societies. Such claims are largely based on theory made by migration and globalization scholars, but they often lack empircal grounding. This research seeks to attend to this gap in the current literature by providing a micro-level anthropological study on the everyday life of highly skilled migrants living in Austria. Getting a better understanding of professional migrants, their social patterns and life situations is not just desirable within the academic world, it provides a useful insight that is applicable and benifical to the cities and nations they inhabit. Austria like most other Western countries has acknowledged a need for attracting and holding on to highly qualified workers. Since July 2011 the Rot-Weiss-Rot Card has been in effect, which is designed to contravene the lack of the highly qualified workers. This calls for increased attention and insight to the particular context of highly skilled in Austria. Temporary skilled migrants form a pool of potential permanent residents, and exploring strategies and possibilities for incorporation may very well provide a better understanding of the degree to which this shift is attainable.