Narratives of meaningful endurance – how migrant women escape the vicious cycle between health problems and unemployment

Comparative Migration Studies. 2018;6(1):1-16 DOI 10.1186/s40878-018-0088-0


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Comparative Migration Studies

ISSN: 2214-594X (Online)

Publisher: SpringerOpen

Society/Institution: IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion)

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races: Urban groups. The city. Urban sociology: City population. Including children in cities, immigration

Country of publisher: Netherlands

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Jasmijn Slootjes (Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative/D-Lab, UC Berkeley)

Saskia Keuzenkamp (Movisie - Netherlands Centre for Social Development)

Sawitri Saharso (Department of Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 13 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Abstract Migrant women in Europe have a higher incidence of health problems and have disproportionately high unemployment rates. We examine how Dutch and Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese first and second generation migrant women escape the vicious cycle between health problems and unemployment by using the theory of the Sense of Coherence (SOC). We study how SOC works and whether SOC is also applicable outside the domain of health. Our findings from life story interviews (N = 54) show that women can escape this vicious cycle through the meaningful reconstruction of adversity. Women can put a halt on the on-going negative chain reaction through focusing on the meaning and purpose of adversity. We name such life stories narratives of meaningful endurance, which are characterized by structure, authorship and meaningful reconstruction, in opposition to its counterpart, narratives of non-directional distress. The three respective components of SOC - comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness - enable the attainment of a narrative of meaningful endurance and individuals with a stronger SOC are more likely to tell narratives of meaningful endurance. Theoretical and policy implications of our findings are discussed.