Topic: Choosing to stay in the era of mobilities: reflexive and (s)elective biographies of regional stayers
Keywords: Mental staying, immobility, young adults, regional staying, elective biography
Increasingly, the staying processes of young people in peripheral areas is a topic of research. However, most research focus on the “leaver” by regarding staying and leaving as binary opposites and as local processes on the local level. In this paper we see staying and leaving as interrelated processes by focusing on young regional stayers. We define regional stayers as people who have left the parental home, but who stay in the home region. This paper explores how young students’ personal narratives relate to prevailing migration and mobility discourses. We use the concept of elective biographies to demonstrate that staying processes have both geographical/physical and mental/emotional dimensions. A total of 20 in-depth interviews were conducted with Masters students from the University of Groningen in Groningen and Leeuwarden (northern Netherlands) and the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Aalborg located in Esbjerg and Odense (southwest Denmark). We found that young people include narratives of mobility, disconnection and personal agency in their elective biographies to adapt their staying process to the mobility discourse. In other words; in the era of mobilities, young adults develop strategies of staying by including experience of time-limited geographical mobility.