The paper is an ethnological contribution to the discussions about methodological approaches relevant when studying lifestyle migration. It is leaning on my recently conducted four month period in field along Costa del Sol while studying expressed and made transnationality among Swedish citizens of all ages permanently residing there. The paper will discuss and put an emphasis on a qualitatively based ethnography of method pluralism. This stands in line with the chosen theoretical perspective as a means to acquire both a broad and in-depth understanding of the everyday life experience as a lifestyle migrant with dual (or multiple) frame of reference to country of origin and country of residence. As such, this kind of methodological approach aims to constitute a foundation of an analysis of how global and international structures affect the daily life of the lifestyle migrant on the micro-level in a concrete manner.
For the up-coming doctoral thesis the theoretical approach rests on expressed and made transnationality among Swedish citizens, which as such governs the methods chosen for that aim. The main method throughout the fieldwork has been in-depth interviews with twelve Swedish residents in the Costa del Sol-area in which they have told me about their transnational life. The narratives will be interpreted through a folkloristic narrative analysis of life stories. The interviews had an in-depth character, which means that I have met with the informants on at least three occasions, each occasion varying between one to several hours. The aim was to let the interviewees thoroughly tell me their emigration experience, their perception of being in a voluntarily expatriate position, and their strategies of living their everyday life in reference to a country of origin different from the country of residence.
Secondly, inspired by the phenomenological approach I have through participant observation and experience used myself as a transnational subject in order to get access to events, situations and places where the transnationality is made among the Swedish citizens. As such, I easily became an actor and found a place in the Swedish community, primarily through the interviewees and institutions like the Swedish church and the Swedish school. Additionally, I will enhance my understanding of the lifestyle migration phenomenon through walk along-interviews, random conversations, discussions in focal groups, the collection of articles and documentaries relevant from Swedish media in Sweden, and through taking visual fieldnotes.
In sum, the paper aims to discuss method pluralism in relation to theory, the connection between the method and the field, i.e. present some ideas about legitimizing a method in relation to the constitution and suitability of the field, and the possibilities and constraints of being a reflexive researcher when using qualitative methods in regions of lifestyle migration.
Theorizing Lifestyle Migration Workshop Madrid, Jan 28-29th 2010, CCHS & CSIC