The role of identity and ontological (in) security in return migration: an empirical perspective from Hungary

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Lados, Gábor
Hegedűs, Gábor
Kovács, Zoltán
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East–West migration has become a dominant spatial phenomenon in Europe since the step-by-step enlargement of the EU, posing considerable socio-economic and demographic challenges for sending countries. However, little is known about the geopolitics and motivations that inspire a return to the country of origin. The objective of this article is to identify the motivations for emigration, adaptation experiences and decisions of Hungarian migrants who worked in the West for a period of time and returned to Hungary, based on their skills and family status before their return. The research is based on in-depth interviews with 48 returnees and builds on the cultural identity model and the notion of ontological security. The study demonstrates the growing role of geopolitics in return migration, although its relevance differs in various groups, with clear distinctions between the high- and low-skilled migrants. The role of family as a geopolitical unit is increasing; factors like their endeavour to hold the family together, fear of children’s assimilation, loss of identity and uncertainty while abroad are important in shaping decisions to return. On the other hand, schemes to enhance the return migration of the highly skilled also build on geopolitical and nationalistic rhetoric, which appear to target experiences of ontological (in)security among migrants.
migráció , vándorlás , kivándorlás , visszavándorlás - Magyarország , elvándorlás , elvándorlás - Magyarország
Journal of International Migration and Integration Article in Press, 20 p. (2022)