Migrant worker children: Conceptions of homelessness and implications for education

Richard H. Kozoll, Margery D. Osborne, Georgia Earnest García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper the authors draw from interviews with young migrant workers to problematize the question "What is a home?" The argument is made that once we acknowledge alternative images of "home" and the values and priorities that follow, policies and services for migrant workers and their children might take different forms than are currently configured. Migrating, or becoming "homeless," is a choice these families make to maintain their family structure. For these people homed-homeless is not a dichotomy. Rather, the operative word is family. The structure of the family is analyzed as a lifeworld (Habermas, 1984, 1987), or system of values and experiences that defines choices and ways of acting. Importantly, migrant workers travel as families and often as extended families. The unit of the family is assumed. Tensions arise when an individual member of the family questions the assumption of everyone working together for the family unit. When the family decides to break the unit, for example by sending a child away so he/she can attend school, the unit suffers as well as the individual. The sense of power that many assume is located in the home - a particular physical space - is also located in the family and the relationships among persons the word family implies. Social policies and institutions often disregard this distinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-585
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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