Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Recent studies on migrants’ social and professional integration in Switzerland indicate that migrant women are the most vulnerable group. Researches highlight the “deskilling power” of migration but tend to focus on a descriptive level, without considering the influence of context and the heterogeneity of migrants’ experiences. This qualitative study aims to investigate the meaning of migration and integration process from participants’ point of view: their challenges, strategies and the impact of the migration experience on self-image. Semi-structured interviews (n = 30) were conducted with two groups of skilled migrant women: group one are skilled women who migrated through the invitation of an international company (Expats) and group two are skilled women who migrated and had to find a job by themselves (Indep). Data is analysed by thematic content analysis (assisted by Nvivo). First results indicate that there are similarities between participants’ experiences concerning the importance of their first encounters when arriving in Switzerland. Their migratory project and expectations seem to be key elements for motivating integration strategies. Professional and social integration imply dealing with shifting boundaries of belonging and a dynamic negotiation of self-image between diverse groups, which they consider as a resource but may also lead to different perceptions of deskilling.

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