Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Siirtonaisena Singaporessa

Ulkomaantyökomennuksille mukaan muuttaneet suomalaisnaiset kertovat kokemuksistaan

Annika Oksanen

Väitöskirja, joulukuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, yhteiskuntapolitiikan laitos.

The objective of this qualitative study is to reveal the discursive reality of Finnish women, who have chosen to follow their husbands to expatriate assignments. The research material includes interviews of seventeen (17) Finnish housewives who lived in Singapore in 1999. The primary theoretical framework of the study is a social-constructive view, in which the reality is seen to have been constructed through meanings that create and maintain cultural practices, social roles and institutions. Gender is interpreted as produced socially, politically and in language. Human beings in the study exist as cultural and social beings with sex. An underlying assumption of the analysis is that the women in the study do not recognize their experience from their position that has been located to the prompt box in a play of expatriate assignment a role that is offered to them by the business sciences. Referring to Somers (1994) these women suffer of narrative silence as they lack public narratives that correspond to their circumstances. According to Williams (1983), an experience is an evidence of conditions. Therefore, the experiences of the women, who have followed their husbands to expatriate assignments, include information of their conditions. The analysis of the interview material has been performed in two phases: First, the women's experiences are identified from the research material. Thereafter, by means of discourse analysis the experiences are revealed analytically. This revealing process can also be regarded as an articulation of a counter-narrative.

The research results can be found from three such discursive interpretations that are offered to the women and from eight such discursive interpretations that can be drawn from the women's own experiences. One of the discursive interpretations, which came out from the women's own experiences, is named as cultural dysphasia. In the study, cultural dysphasia is defined as a condition, in which the women have a difficulty in making their lived reality understood by others outside the sphere of their situation. Finnish women do not only lack public narrative, but the absence of a housewife-culture in Finland prevents them from any public narrative that would have a positive tone. To avoid dependence on the housewife concept, a woman's decision to follow her husband to an expatriate assignment is interpreted as a demonstration of solidarity to the relationship. In this connection, these Finnish women are re-named as 'siirtonainen' (Finnish, literally 'transfer woman').

This is the first scientific study to make visible the lived reality of Finnish women who have followed their husbands to expatriate assignments. The study will help the women in similar circumstances to find their marks among the current narratives. By reducing dichotomy between housewives and career women, which is damaging to women, and by creating the concept of 'siirtonainen' it will be possible to expand the cultural space of Finnish women. Finally, the study argues that a Finnish career woman, grown together with the imperative of self-support, has been lifted up as one symbol of modern Finland.

Key words: expatriate research, experience, public narrative, narrative silence, cultural dysphasia, siirtonainen - transfer woman

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 27.11.2006

Yhteystiedot, Contact information E-thesis Helsingin yliopisto, University of Helsinki