Inequalities in Motion:
Transnational Families in Estonia and Finland

The project Inequalities in Motion: Transnational Families in Estonia and Finland (1 August 2015 – 31 July 2019) studies the migration and commuting between Estonia and Finland and the related inequality. Estonia and Finland form a truly transnational area: tens of thousands of people cross the Gulf of Finland regularly, some as often as weekly, while others cross it a few times per year.

The transnational mobility does not only change the lives of those working abroad. The individual-centric perspective to migration has been increasingly replaced by the awareness that all migrants have family ties, regardless of whether they migrate alone or with their families. The project focuses on how families cope with the new conditions and the subjective and emotional aspects of mobility: how the transnational family life and the inequality connected to it are experienced and how the different family members describe them.

Methodologically, the approach is innovative: the point of view is ethnographic, but the researchers use several different methods from participant observation and moving with the people studied to drawing pictures and storycrafting with children. Artists give their contribution in the form of a variety of visual methods, and a journalist adds the points of view of individuals and the stories of families about the migration. The number of people and families being studied is limited, and cooperation with the same families continues throughout the three-year project. Results of the project are presented to the general public in texts (articles, books, blog), but also by means of a documentary film, images, cartoons, and street art.

The project is funded by the Kone Foundation, and Professor of Social and Public Policy Laura Assmuth, D.Soc.Sc., from the University of Eastern Finland acts as the Principal Investigator and the researcher responsible for the project. The project team also includes Kaja Kunnas (Freelance Journalist), Martin Rattas (Visual Artist), Pihla Siim, MA, (Doctoral Student (folklore)), Moonika Siimets (Documentary Filmmaker), Riina Sildos (Producer, Amrion) and Kadri Pahla (Assistant, Amrion).

The research project has its own website.