The influence of labour migration on Azerbaijani Families
Abulfez D. Suleymanov (Azerbaijan National Academy of Science)
Social and economic crisis and its negative impact on families in the former Soviet republics, including Azerbaijan, was the main reason for rise of internal and external migration of labour force. This process had big influence on socio-demographic structure of Azerbaijan. The structure of family’s kinship and age-sex structure started to change and former extended families now turned into the nuclear ones. The numbers of incomplete families rose quickly. Hence, these migratory changes, first of all, affected the family institution. As result of this process, number of separated and divorced Azerbaijani families rose steadily.
Absence of one parent as a result of labor migration, especially a father in case of Azerbaijan, was the main cause for such vital problems as child upbringing, family provision and developing of proper physical and social condition for new generations. As a result of the labor migration fathers or other active male agents in the family use to leave their families for a long time. Women and children who had been interviewed within this research project described this status as new social problem.
Eighty in-depth interviews (40 families in Baku city, and 40 families in the Gokchay district) with women, whose husband temporary migrated, had been conducted.
In addition, one of main purposes of the research was to define impact of migration process on children. For example, absence of father might have negative impact on children causing changes of their social behaviour. To measure extent of such effects a special questionnaire containing 10 questions was prepared for children. 43 children above 12 years old were involved in research along with their mothers.
Conclusions: “fragmentation” became a “way of life” for such families. It can be seen that labour migration and fragmentation, separateness of families as an obvious outcome of the process is not a temporary transition state but rather a new lifestyle especially for such families.
When looking at relations between individuals in family, for example husband-wife relations, the majority of respondents, who had their spouses away for years, believe that nothing has changed in their relationship.
At the same time absence of male counterparts is viewed as having negative effect on women and children. In some families, break up of the family union, alienation creates problems and both physical and moral well-being of different family members, especially women. Of an utmost importance are negative effects associated with negative image attached to women living alone (stigma), challenges of socialization of male children (increased influence from outside environment and etc.), health problems and indefinite future of the family. It makes more difficult for children reaching puberty to define specific goals and develop plans regarding their future such as to start independent life, start a career or finally engage and live family lives. These thoughts were mentioned during interviews that were held with respondents.
At the same time, strength and tenacity of women and development of many positive qualities in children in such families that were mentioned by respondents must be considered.
It was also observed that relationships with and attitude of the third parties did not change. Neither children, nor parents mention any occasion of negative attitude or worsening of relationships with outside parties. On the contrary, most of them mention increased care and help from the environment. That is mostly seen in the rural regions of Azerbaijan and can be explained by collaboration of people living in same conditions and preservation of national custom to help family in need.
This research gave a possibility to test indicators of changes in the dynamics of Azerbaijan family through the lenses of the labour migration problem. Hence, the primary aim of the research was to obtain new information about the problems and develop scenarios of national respond to posed challenges.