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Table 7.2: Typical employment trajectories of EVW women

It is clear that the connections between place and identity are constructed through a complex set of interconnections that work across a range of spatial scales. International migration flows, national economic circumstances and local labour markets, as well as, inter alia, ethnic origins, local place-based cultures and personal decisions about, for example, marriage, combine to construct a particular set of connections between place and identity, as well as revealing their complexity. As Massey has argued, a sense of place is composed of a set of networks of social relationships rather than a bounded conception of the local. Similarly, local notions about appropriate gender cultures are always intercut by social differences between women, whether based on class, ethnicity or other characteristics. So complex are these interconnections, that the very notion of ‘place-rooted cultures of mothering’ (Holloway 1999, p 438) may be challenged by the diversity of strategies that exist in a locality in order to combine productive and reproductive labour. For Latvian EVWs the desire to build a strong imagined community in a country that they continued to see as their place of exile meant that they lived most of their lives within a separate sphere from their British neighbours and co-workers. Their self-reliance and the networks of mutual support that these women built in their early years in Britain also meant that they tended not to depend on local provision of goods and services such as, for example, pre-school groups or nurseries. Thus, here too, spatial differences between localities was a less significant factor in their decisions of how to combine paid and domestic work than for many other women.