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Home and away: British women's narratives of community in Spain

Ahmed, AAI 2010, Home and away: British women's narratives of community in Spain , PhD thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Aim: To examine constructions of community among retired migrants from the UK in the Costa Blanca in Spain. Background: ‘Community’ as a concept has enduring theoretical and practical significance. Often discussed in terms of representing something lost yet recoverable, community has further relevance in understanding social change and continuity. Underpinning discourses of community, there is often a recurrent theme of loss and recovery which has utopian and nostalgic overtones and this permeates contemporary understandings of what community represents. This is also reflected by the Labour Government’s appropriation of community as a panacea for social problems. Since the 1970s, migration to Spanish coastal resorts – costas - has significantly increased and retired British migrants constitute a large proportion of such movement. The development of theories to facilitate understanding of these new ‘transnational’ communities through lifestyle migration is a relatively new area of study and I aim to contribute to this. The idea that the absence of community is problematic combined with a romantic discourse relating to ‘past ages’- or ‘nostalgia’ - warrants further exploration. Methods: Seventeen in-depth interviews were undertaken with a theoretically sampled group of women who had moved to the Costa Blanca from the UK. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using a narrative approach. Findings: There are multiple forms of belonging to community. Representations of community are multi-dimensional, complex and overlapping in nature. Place continues to be salient, but belonging to places is now more complex as a result of transnationalism through lifestyle migration and increased global movement. Constructions of belonging to place are inextricably linked to networks and ethnicity. Conclusion: Nostalgic constructions of community can be understood as an antidote to modernity and nostalgia denotes the mourning of a lost time as well as a lost home or place. In times of rapid social change, when people’s intimacy with the world – represented as belonging to places, networks and ethnic group - is compromised, they seek to recreate it through nostalgia. Nostalgic constructions of belonging are key to how people give meaning to their lives. Different types of belonging are linked to community through a sense of nostalgic intimacy with the world. If intimacy with the world is compromised then nostalgia constructs and reflects belonging. In the absence of real intimacy or closeness, nostalgia is ignited through narrative and fills this gap. Nostalgia therefore, is a form of chronotope since it can be used to link time and space.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Temple, B (Supervisor) and Stanley, NR (Supervisor)
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Health and Wellbeing
Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences > Centre for Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences Research
Schools > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: A Ahmed
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2013 10:46
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 23:46

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